Reading Assigned: Pages 75-103 of Identity and Leadership: Informing Our Lives, Informing Our Practice by Alicia Fedelina Chavez & Ronni Sanlo.
Reflection on Alicia Fedelina Chavez’s story:
One thing that I was not expecting based on Chavez’s story’s title, “Military Brat and Sheep Herder’s Granddaughter: Doing the Work That Needs Doing,” was to be able to relate to several of her experiences.
For example, on page 77, Chavez mentions that she grew up with little money and that constantly affects her professionalism and leadership habits (not that it makes her less effective in either areas, just makes her different). I grew up in a similar way. I was never taught to sew because I grew up in southern Arkansas where “only women sewed,” but I did learn to eat a certain way so my food lasted longer. I also learned to take care of everything that was ever given to me or anything that I saved up money for myself. I think that that, like Chavez, has affected my leadership skills. I am more able to connect with students from lower-income backgrounds. I often buy them food when I can, but I let them buy their own food when they insist on it because I understand the pride and independence complexes that arise from growing up in that environment.
I also related to her protectiveness. I have, in the past, had to react to crises regarding students in danger. It has never been to the severity of the situation that Chavez outlines on page 79, but I understand the need to protect others. I feel similar ways in regards to several of the students I advise and supervise. I advocate constantly for mental health training for professionals in my department because, in my experience, often the danger that we are protecting students from comes from inside themselves.
Reflection on Peter Hayashida’s Story:
I related heavily to Peter Hayashida’s story. And, honestly, I think I will think about what I have read about him for a long time. He’s a Vice Chancellor at a school and he holds at least two minoritized identities that he mentions: he’s Asian-American and gay.
I don’t relate to the Asian-American identity that he holds, and I likely never will experience anything that’s too similar. But the intersection of his sexual orientation and his racial identity and how that affects his professional career struck several cords in me. I am White, so my racial identity is extremely privileged–even within the gay community. However, I am from a working class background, I navigate mental illness on a daily basis, and I identify as a Spiritual Agnostic.
All of these identities are connected to one another and all are connected to my identity as a gay man. I worry constantly about being too much of a stereotype or letting my identities become my only trait and that affects my professionalism and my leadership abilities.
Hayashida mentions on page 100 that his identities have made it difficult for him to tolerate intolerance. I feel the same way. My passion for LGBTQ+ rights flows right into Feminism and a passion for racial justice, equality, and equity. I think–based on both my own introspection and feedback that I have received from students–is one trait that is most prevalent in my leadership styles. I consistently remind my students to think around social identities and how their programming looks for students of all different backgrounds. I also consistently try to remember to introduce myself with my pronouns and remind myself, and my students, not to make assumptions.