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 November 2007 • NIRSA news and information
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Scholarship winners: Where are they now?

Part of a series of updates on past NIRSA Foundation Scholarship winners

Amy Jo Jenkins

The NIRSA Foundation is committed to educational and scholarly projects that enhance leadership development within campus programs. Each year the NIRSA Foundation offers student and professional scholarships so that recipients can attend various NIRSA educational programs.

This year, the NIRSA Foundation awarded scholarships to 17 students and 3 professionals. Since 1994, the Foundation has awarded 201 scholarships totaling more than $50,000 to enhance the professional and career aspirations of our Student and Professional Members.

From time to time, the Foundation Board will track some of our scholarship recipients to get an idea of how their lives and careers have turned out.

This month, we caught up with Amy Jo Jenkins of Central Michigan University. Amy Jo received the William Wasson Scholarship in 2006.

NIRSA Foundation: What are you doing now?

Amy Jo: I am currently the Assistant Director of Aquatics and Safety at Central Michigan University and have been in this position since July 2007. I am responsible for the daily operations of our pools, programming, swim lessons, special events and safety education courses. I am also currently on the NIRSA Outdoor Committee, Nominations & Elections Committee and the MIRSA Scholarship Committee.

NIRSA Foundation: What NIRSA activity or event did you use your scholarship to attend?

Amy Jo: I used my scholarship to attend the 2006 Annual Conference in Louisville, Kentucky as a first year Graduate Assistant. This was the conference where I stood for National Student Representative and was elected by the student members to serve on the NIRSA Board of Directors for a one year term.

NIRSA Foundation: What was your career track from the time you received the scholarship to now?

Amy Jo: I was a first year Graduate Assistant in Aquatics at The University of Texas at Austin when I received the scholarship. As a GA I supervised 90 lifeguards and assisted with the opening of our $15.3 million Aquatic Complex. My second year as a GA I worked with Outdoor Recreation overseeing the Climbing Wall, Outdoor Center and Adventure Trip program. While serving as the National Student Representative on the NIRSA Board of Directors I traveled to several conferences including the Region V Lead On, Region I Conference, Region IV Conference/Big XII & Friends, Region VI Conference and Lead On, Emerging Recreational Sports Leaders Conference, Region III Lead On and Region IV Lead On. I completed my Masters of Education in Higher Education: Educational Administration at The University of Texas at Austin in May 2007 and headed north to Mount Pleasant, Michigan in July 2007 for my current position.

NIRSA Foundation: Would you have been able to attend the Louisville conference without the Foundation scholarship?

Amy Jo: Yes, I would have been able to attend the Annual Conference without the Foundation scholarship, as The University of Texas at Austin was extremely supportive in my professional development. It was an honor to receive this scholarship and I truly appreciate that this is available for student professional development.

NIRSA Foundation: What was a favorite experience from the Conference that you would like to share?

Amy Jo: It is difficult to pinpoint my favorite experience from any NIRSA conference because there are so many! I would say the most memorable one was giving my National Student Representative speech in front of hundreds of people during the Student Business Meeting because it was pretty intimidating initially. When I looked out and saw not only students, but also numerous professionals who were there to support us, it made all the difference. And more importantly, it was a huge honor to share that experience with a good friend, Rachel McNally Ebaugh, from my undergraduate years at Elon University. Our director was pretty excited that we were both slated for the NSR position, especially since Elon is a smaller school (about 4,600 students at the time).

NIRSA Foundation: Winning a scholarship means different things to different recipients. What did your scholarship mean to you and why? Do you feel it is had a significant impact on your professional development? Do you believe that your Foundation scholarship helped further your career?

Amy Jo: It was an honor to receive this scholarship and be recognized with so many other talented students (many of whom are now professionals). I think student scholarships not only enable students to become involved by assisting with the financial aspect, but they also show that professionals are invested in our development as students. Receiving this scholarship increased my desire to give back even more to our association and provide others with opportunities similar to this. For me it is not what I have done to earn this scholarship, but what I will do after receiving can I challenge others to get involved, develop as professionals and serve our association?

NIRSA Foundation: Any advice for our current students and future professionals?

Amy Jo: Work hard, play hard. Most members have probably heard this at some point or time, but I remember hearing it at my first-ever NIRSA Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. I did not truly understand the meaning behind it then, but I definitely do now. We are in this profession because we love what we do—we're passionate, but we also need to find that balance between work and play. (If you have achieved this, please let me know your secret!) My NIRSA advice would be to network, get involved and find an awesome mentor.

NIRSA Foundation: What's on the horizon for you?

Amy Jo: I am excited about my first year as a professional and being a part of the awesome Central Michigan University URec team. I am also getting involved in MIRSA (Michigan State Association) and Region III, eventually standing as a State Director or Regional Vice President. I hope to stay involved in numerous areas of campus recreation, especially outdoor recreation. Down the road I plan to serve in the Peace Corps, preferably in Africa and continue exploring this awesome planet!
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