Today I woke up to the sounds of Twitter notifications. One after another, gaining 30 followers within hours. Then another 50, then 100!
I clicked on a comment I was tagged in to realize I was listed as ‘20 Pros to Follow‘ on Twitter through a blog post from InsideHigherEd.com. Written by Eric Stoller, he and I originally met at the NASPA Western Regional Conference in 2011, where I assumed promotional responsibilities for the 2012 conference in Hawaii. This included managing the conference twitter account. Only problem was, I was intimated of this site. All the #, @, RT, MT, Follow was a bit to digest and I hadn’t jumped into the platform yet.
It only took 10 minutes. A few pointers before his closing keynote at the conference and I was on my way. Since then I hired him as a consultant and speaker at my previous institution, Loyola Marymount University. Throughout his day and a half speaking engagement, he left our division “turned from kittens into lions.” This pun was significant; LMU’s mascot is the lions. His impact is still felt today.
Eric and I have remained in contact, running into each other at conferences, as well as through communication tools such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I studying and researching social media, and he preaching the gospel of social media communication tools and strategy throughout the country as a public speaker.
Other than my identity and affiliation with my doctoral program at California Lutheran University, I have no campus to call my professional home. For the last 10 years, much of my identity was woven into the campuses I dedicated my work to. It has been almost nine months since I took the brave leap of attending school full-time, and aggressively pursuing my research agenda. I knew I would have a lot of work to do on ‘self’ with both personal and professional exploration and hopeful growth.
The week after I was officially a full-time student, I reached out to Eric to acquire some advice and direction. Many of which I just have to share.
- Be passionate
- Always be you, always
- Fall in love with writing
- Have a clear opinion
Eric, I took your advice. There have been some bumps along the way since then, but I’m getting there. What I miss most about being part of an institution is the community, support and quite honestly, acknowledgement for hard work. But after today, I was reminded that I do have a ‘campus,’ I do have colleagues, and for now that is on Twitter.
We each have our separate institutions and responsibilities, but remain housed through our connections online. It was today that I was reminded just how amazing the field of Higher Education is, especially those who commit themselves to Student Affairs work.
I was floor and honored to be included on the list, which include such strong leaders as Senior Vice Presidents and Deans, but also accounts with thousands of followers, found here. He wrote:
Josie Ahlquist – When I first met Josie it was before she began her doctoral program. We talked about social media and her former institution. Nowadays, she’s writing blog posts that everyone in the field should read. Seriously, her work will land her a book offer some day.
Eric is receiving a bit of push back from his post, with critics pointing to the lack of diversity, sexism and favoritism in his 20 listed. Here is my response.
- Let it be known that the entire list is female and most of the negative comments are from men. This may be a first and should be celebrated that an entire list would be women!!
- There are a variety of ages, as well as ethnicities and position titles among the 20 listed.
- While I knew Eric previously, I will speak for myself when I say I have worked very hard this past year to establish a professional presence online. I blog weekly, tweet daily and infuse social media research into every paper and project within my doctoral program. I appreciate Eric acknowledges this, but just because I already knew him, doesn’t mean he is playing favorites.
- I can also say with the utmost confidence that he lives the advice he gave me, especially point #4. He has a clear opinion. And this is his opinion. He does not claim that this is ‘The Top 20,’ it is 20 he is recommending.
Should have some men been included? Maybe. Could it be a bit of jealousy, envy, competition? Possibly.
Let’s follow his inquiry, as his content opened up the conversation. Who else would you recommend others should be following? This is not a competition, this is our community. Let’s foster it!