Today marks my two year anniversary as Registrar at a local college. For 730 days, I have been a “school official.” I remember the first time I had to sign an important document as Registrar. A coworker came to me and said “Courtney, I need a school official’s signature, can you please sign off on this for me?” A few thoughts immediately popped into my head:
Try not to laugh. If I act official maybe people will continue to view me as a “school official”
How does a school official sign documents? My neat, bubbly, half-cursive & half-print signature seems too juvenile. I need to get more black pens, these pink ones are definitely not official looking.
Maybe I should read what I am signing off on before throwing my “signature of approval” on it
I wonder how long this”school official” gig will last
Fast forward two years and I am still the Registrar. I sign documents with my bubbly, half-cursive half-print signature in bright pink ink. My desk is covered with pictures of my family, nephews, and dogs. I have a candy bowl set out that I eat from more than I should, and fill up for the students every few weeks. Sometimes students make me mad and we fight. Sometimes students confide in me and ask for advice. Sometimes I like to take my “school official” hat off and be a friend when a student is in need. Sometimes I’ll even cry with them whether they are tears of joy or tears of sorrow.
In my two years of “Registraring” (a verb that I invented and have decided should exist for us Registrars), I have learned that being a school official does not necessarily mean wearing power suits, signing documents with a $300 pen, or hiding my real personality from students and coworkers. To me, being a school official means taking care of business while also being a confidant, support system, and friend to my students.
In the past few weeks I have signed congratulatory graduation letters and dismissed students from school. I have been shown appreciation and I have been cursed at. I have had an office to myself and I have shared an office with a suspected serial killer. Every day is full of excitement (when a student lands a job) and disappointment (seeing a student with real potential on the local news for armed robbery).
Whether I am having a good week or a miserable one, there is one thing makes me realize why being a school official kicks ass: graduation day. The happiness that I get from watching my students walk across the stage on graduation day makes every bad day worth it. When I see a student posing for pictures, diploma in hand, and think back to the time I convinced her to not drop from school, I am filled with deep joy. I made a difference. I helped in some tiny way.
Graduation day reminds me of why I choose to get up every day and do what I do- it’s for the students.