10:00 am | The elevator doors open, and I cross the BHC fourth floor lobby to retrieve keys from the staff work room. These keys unlock the ITC, library, storage room, and just about every other door of the student center on the third floor. Today, I am the one in charge of these tasks, because I am the student monitor from the Center’s open at 10 a.m. to close at 1 p.m.
As I unlock the doors, I glance about the floor. Every space is occupied with pleasantly studying students, poring over their textbooks and papers. The BHC third floor has become a really great space for people who just like to have a quiet working environment.
On the third floor desk are neat piles of flyers, created by student admins or peer advisors for various events that Honors at Iowa sponsors. The monitor’s responsibility is to distribute them through the floor. So, I drop my things and start making rounds to the lounge areas and bulletin boards, trying not to disturb any fellow Honorables in their studies.
10:45 am | I settle in at the desk. On top of my role as a student monitor, I also help on the Honors Outreach Team, which deals with engagement efforts and social media for students in the program.
My specific role involves managing the Honors at Iowa Instagram page, so I open the app on my phone and begin scrolling. Today, we have one new follower—another student group on campus—and three likes on my recent post about our ICFRC lecture this week.
Instagram has been a challenging platform to measure our student engagement this year. Since its one of our newer social media outlets, we’re still building an audience (about 70 followers presently), and few of those followers contribute feedback to our posts. Instagram only reports likes, comments, and new followers, rather than post views or impressions, so we haven’t been able to tell how many Honors students we actually reach.
With this being the case, I try to find the most visually appealing photos for our posts, and write captions that call students to action, whether promoting study abroad opportunities, luncheon lecturers, or student profiles in our Humans of Honors project, in the hopes that this will eventually bring about more interest for the Honors at Iowa page.
11:15 am | A student approaches the desk. People usually come here with Honors forms that should actually be turned in on the fourth floor, or they ask for directions to the Peer Advisor office, or they just want to check out markers. Today, however, this student asked to reserve the library tutor room for a proctored exam he has next week. So, I click open the Outlook calendar on the student staff computer and take a few notes. Name, date, time…done. Any tasks we have here are usually pretty simple, which means we have more time to focus on our respective projects.
11:30 am | I prop the “monitor away” sign on the desk and sneak back to the South Commons in search of the vending machine. First thing in the day, a three-hour shift can be a huge challenge for my stomach. Thankfully, after a moment, the machine claims $1.25 of my change, and I have some relief—courtesy of the Rold Gold Pretzel Company.
11:45 pm | I jump over to the Outlook email on the computer. Scanning through my emails, I see one from our team Listserv with Jessica. Its instructions are for my fellow Outreach members and me to start promoting the Honors Newsletter because the Winter 2016 issue has just been published. Attached is the cover image for us to use too—it features a room full of yoga novices being taught by an Engaged Social Innovation student: Helaina Thompson.
So, I download the picture for my phone and open the Instagram app to begin the editing process. The photo quality is already pretty great, since it came from a professional photographer. So I just adjust the straightness, turn up the lux color a bit, add a vignette border, and it’s pretty much done. Sometimes, #nofilter is a real thing—gasp!
12:00 pm | Someone else appears at the front of the desk. Looking up from my work, they greet me, then ask to use the porch to study. Given that today, it’s about 46 degrees out, and quite overcast, the request is a bit bizarre. I guess every Honors kid has their preferences when it comes to study atmospheres, though, so I oblige by grabbing the keys from the drawer and escorting them outside to the patio.
12:15 pm | I scour my looseleaf notes from our last Outreach meeting as a team, while enjoying the slight warmth of the sun rays coming through the windows behind the desk. Emily, our newsletter editor, gave us a run-down of the article content that would be featured in this latest edition of the newsletter. Some of the things she mentioned, as related in my notes, were 1) the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference, for which we just had a student elected as a representative, 2) the progress of the new major Honors is piloting—Engaged Social Innovation—and 3) an especially intriguing piece about couples brought together by honors experiences!
I ponder over how to phrase everything for a bit, writing and rewriting. Then, before long, I have a sizeable, yet entertaining caption to accompany the newsletter photo.
12:45 pm | So the Instagram post is ready to launch! Taking one last glance over everything (because I am a VERY detail-oriented person), I finally press “share.” As I watch, Instagram snatches up the post, and instantly catapults it into the cyberspace of the online world. Once it appears, it is featured alongside posts from the Iowa admissions office, ICRU, and the UI Children’s Hospital, for all of the Honors at Iowa audience to see.
This is actually one of the best things about my position at the Honors Center—I love being a part of those who give the program a genuine face and approachable personality online. We, meaning Jessica, Hannah, Courtney, Katie, Emily, myself, and all the others included, work very hard on the Outreach team to scale down the level of intimidation that the Honors program tends to give off to students, and really encourage people to #makeyourconnection with Honors on campus. Every post response through our online media gives us an outlet to help determine how successful we are at accomplishing that goal.
Satisfied, I shoot a quick email to the rest of the Honors Outreach staff. I want to let them know about the post’s launch, and encourage them to share it on our other social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, so it can get a wide array of views.
1:00 pm | I give myself a pat on the back for the day’s work and gather my things. Then I exchange places with another student staff member, Emilee, my replacement for the afternoon. I make my way to class, so I can continue to get good grades and keep doing what I love doing here.