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Statement of Purpose: Beyond ‘About Me’

After getting an email from a friend at RWU interested in Student Affairs and working on developing Grad School applications, I realized that I while I’ve spoken a lot about the ‘process of graduate applications’ in Student Affairs: Farm League, I’ve never actually explained what my ‘Statement of Purpose’ was when I was entering Graduate School.  With the start of my experience only 4 weeks away, and a forum like this one to actually post it, I thought it would serve as a great reminder to me of how I got here.  I think every now and then I’ll need it, and posting I here means it’s easy for me to get at, and (hopefully) an interesting read for my audience, (whoever that may be) along with some insight on who I am and how I got here; beyond an ‘About Me’ tab. Thanks for reading!

Nearly four years ago, I was accepted into Roger Williams University’s Gabelli School of Business as an ambitious, focused, and energetic Marketing major from Rutland, Massachusetts. This spring, I will graduate as a Psychology major pursing a Master of Education degree in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education, passionate and excited about leadership, now hailing from Grand Prairie, Texas. My personal transition from profits and bottom-lines to icebreakers and team-builders represents a shift in my life path, and parallels my individual development, credited to the facilitative process of student affairs professionals at RWU. Thus, my ultimate intent at Texas A&M University’s College of Education & Human Development is to serve that same purpose for future generations of students through my commitment to student development and leadership.

I entered Roger Williams University assuring my high school friends I would become President of my freshman class, a goal that perplexed everyone. I was never one to step into the spotlight outside of an occasional “open mic” night playing guitar at local coffee houses. In truth, I had never before held a leadership position. With the exception of track, I watched television at my house, did homework, and had very little intrinsic motivation throughout my high school years. There was, however, an ardent desire existing within me that I could, and wanted to, do more. Consequently, the realization that my high school experience was underutilized became my primary motivation for my involvement at RWU. I found a Vice President running-mate during Freshman Orientation, immediately declared candidacy, and was elected to the position, gaining confidence and an increasing system of support along the way from both peers and staff members.

Through my involvement within the corresponding organization, the Inter-Class Council, and my acceptance to SOAR, a leadership program based on the Social Change Model of Leadership Development, I found that my love of leadership and interest in student development increased in accordance with my own involvement. In fact, it is the experiences from these first sessions that continue to ring true throughout my engagement on campus. I saw shy students become impassioned in lively discussion during a “values auction,” bidding their entire “fortune” on true love. I speak about this occurrence regularly with both individuals, as they are now two of my closest friends. More importantly, I realized through activities like these that a person’s identity is engrained deeper than their gender, the color of their skin, the way they live their life or the words they say. I realized that each person, adapting to their own unique experiences and personality, becomes who they are from their own self-efficacy.

As I continued to develop and shape my own sense of self within my experiences and leadership positions on campus, my focused shifted to the professionals who facilitated those discussions. I watched professionals challenge students to enrich the dialogues acquired through their experiences with alternative ideas, and celebrate the growth of their understanding, both inside and outside of a classroom setting. I saw the personal investment these individuals embodied through dedication of long days and full weekends, and the impact of this investment in their students. I realized that while I grew beyond so many of my own personal boundaries, I was never alone, and it was in moments of both crisis and excitement that many of these professionals were my first phone call.

From that moment on, I developed a pure interest in the transformational nature of student affairs. I took on additional leadership roles so that I might work more closely with these

individuals, and understand the perspective from which they lead their lives. I sought to develop professionally alongside them through conferences and committees, gaining their respect and enduring rapport. I started to work with my peers, challenging them in the same way I had been, building goals and visions within personal relationships as well as professional ones.

Cultivating the interest that began in my sophomore year, I now seek to prepare for a prosperous career in student affairs. Pursuing a degree from Texas A&M University would allow me to increase my understanding of the development of students using theoretical frameworks and integrate related research into practice within the discipline. In a field with such a comprehensive nature, I look forward to the application of this knowledge in the pursuit of a holistic understanding of contemporary college students, and the preparation of leaders of tomorrow who are morally self-aware and scholars of the world.

Throughout my search for graduate school, I reflected on what aspects of a program would best suit my career goals. Paramount to my success is a program whose values, faculty, and institutional goals are both deeply engrained in tradition, but revolutionary in their contemporary practices. In this regard, I look forward to the opportunity to study best practices of the discipline with Dr. Kelly Peck Parrott and Dr. Bryan Cole, as well as identity and student development with Dr. Fred Bonner. Specifically, the program’s focus on research and application in the field in relation to moral and social development within students in a variety of leadership roles, and the application of this research practically in the field is of particular appeal. The rich tradition, structure of the program, and research interests of the faculty of Texas A&M are both exciting and invigorating in my continued interest and aspirations towards the field of Student Affairs.

Ultimately, my goal and intent is to achieve a balance between student contact and development of the field as a whole as a Dean of Students, or Vice President of Student Affairs. The experience and understanding that I have acquired at Roger Williams University has sparked a life-long interest in a field about which I am passionate and dedicated. I am confident that the opportunity to study at Texas A&M University would allow me to further develop these goals, and I look forward to opportunity to collaborate with such influential members of the discipline in a department that is well known for its success. Thank you for your consideration.

Best Regards,

Brian LeDuc