Introducing The PANDAS!

I’ve got some crazy deep thoughts going on in my head after last’s night’s Oscars but I thought I’d start my short series of Oscar Posts, with what I created in 5 minutes, the PANDA Awards!

So, while an always attractive Neil Patrick Harris moderately hosted the event, with more outfit changes than Cher and a few unlanded jokes that Oprah was not amused by, I thought it’d be fun to play on the Oscars and create my own and thus was born:

Picture2

The PANDA, an acronym for Positive And Niftily Delightful Associates, is something I randomly came up with during one of the Oscar commercial breaks. However it’s turned into a way for me to say thank you to those who make my engagement on my social media platforms awesome and amazing.

So I’m pleased to present the 2015 inaugural PANDA Recipients.

Best Meme-ography:

2015 Panda

Paul Gordon Brown

@paulgordonbrown

Best Inspirational

Individual:

2015 Panda

Carly Masiroff

@cmmasiroff

Best Panda

Appreciator:

2015 Panda

Britt Duron

@brittcduron

Best New Blogger:

2015 Panda

Stephanie Cascio

@stephanie_annc

Best 3rd Person

Speaker:

2015 Panda

Josh Kohnert

@joshkohnert

Best Person to Deal

With @BDProffer‘s Antics:

2015 Panda

Clyde Barnett

@cbarnettiii

Best Sidebar

#SAChatter:

2015 Panda

Niki Messmore

@nikimessmore

Best Peeps To

Randomly Chat With:

2015 Panda

Adam Leftin

@adamzleftin

2015 Panda

Kimberly White

@whiteoi

Best Cute

Animal Appreciator:

2015 Panda

Alexis Grafakos

@ajgrafakos

Best Conversationalist:

2015 Panda

Paul Porter

@drpaulporter

Best Favoriter of

@BDProffer Randomness:

2015 Panda

Mike Lynch

@mikelynch09

Best Retweeter of

@BDProffer Randomness:

2015 Panda

Frederick Smith

@fsmith827

Congratulations to all the winners! :)

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Day of Silence

Courtesy of matthewbryanpruittphotography.com

Courtesy of matthewbryanpruittphotography.com

So the other day I participated in a friend’s photo shoot they do in recognition of GLSEN’s Day of Silence which is April 17th. This initiative in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

FYI, I’d never done a photo shoot before so let’s just say the photos look better than I felt taking them. lol.

Anyway, since the shoot, I’ve really been thinking about the Day of Silence campaign and its mission. I also just happen to be doing a full Glee Marathon starting with season one and watching the character Kurt progress through his character’s journey and struggling with bullying has exacerbated my thoughts and musings.

Courtesy of matthewbryanpruittphotography.com

Courtesy of matthewbryanpruittphotography.com

I’ll be honest it’s actually hard to watch some of the bullying scenes in the show. Not because I was the one being bullied, but because at times, I was the bully. I, myself, was bullied, but I also did what I had to do to survive high school and that included bullying certain peers. And on top of that, I did a lot of just standing by and letting it happen.

I was the quintessential closet case in high school. My heart went one way, my mind went another and my survival instinct told me which way to go all the time. There were a lot of times that after being an aggressor I’d shut down for a bit, trying to figure it all out and if it was worth it. However, in the end, high school still prevailed. Those were not my proudest moments, and I hurt people just as much as others hurt me.

It’s taken a lot of time, especially since coming out, to come to terms about the way I treated people in high school. I’ve come to learn that we all have those moments in time that we are not proud of. That we did things to others that we regret, all for the sake of fitting in and surviving the environment we are in at the time. But I think what makes it a journey is learning from it all and growing beyond those moments or situations to share our stories and help others learn from them.

Bullying is prevalent. We all know this. Its in high school, in college, in the workplace on social media, and even in your general community and family. But as one who has been both aggressor and victim, it needs to stop. We need to recognize that there are stories on both sides that run deep.

The unfortunate part is that there is not always an environment where everyone is able to be brave and supported to learn the stories, and survival instincts kick in and bullying occurs.

Courtesy of matthewbryanpruittphotography.com

Courtesy of matthewbryanpruittphotography.com

I don’t have any life changing answers to stopping bullying. I can only say for me that, I’m accepting myself and others more and I’m not “standing by” any more. And I’m sharing my experience. Because whether you’re the bully, the victim, or the stander by, there’s a story behind your actions and thats what will get us to learn how to overcome bullying.

To check out the other photos in this shoot visit: https://mbpruittphotography.wordpress.com/

Or to find out more information on the Day of Silence visit: http://www.dayofsilence.org/

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Earned and Given

Lately I’ve been struggling with giving oneself titles such as expert, leader, and change-agent.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

My perspective is that titles are not only earned but also given. Calling yourself an expert, leader, change-agent etc. is easy enough. However, I’m always wary of self-given titles. I can call myself a Panda Expert, but am I really a Panda Expert? I think that whether you are considered a leader, expert etc. is dependant on your community and their experience with your work and knowledge in a given area and if they feel they can give you those titles.

I think this has been on my mind for several reasons including the multitude of resumes that I am reviewing for friends and because I’ve been looking at colleagues’ bios and descriptions of themselves on their social media platforms to help me improve my own. But perhaps the most significant reason why this has been on my mind is probably from my final days at my previous institution.

As my final days loomed closer to my departure at my last institution, I had many colleagues come to say good bye. There were chats, coffee, hugs, some tears and even cupcakes decorated as Pandas :). But the most impactful thing they sent me off with was the honor of referring to me as a few positive and impactful identities and titles that I always aspired to, but never wanted to refer to myself as. I always felt that self-identifying as them seemed empty to me. During my many conversations, and as these titles came up, it was such a validation of me as a professional and put my work into a purposeful context.

Now, I still don’t refer to myself as those titles or identities. But I also know that I am reaching my aspirations. My friends and colleagues do see those qualities and traits in me that I aspire to, so I feel that I don’t have to announce it to the world.

I’ll be honest, titles such as leader, expert, change-agent, etc. can look nice and be really impressive. But the content and practice is what will really earn you the titles. And if you are truly an expert or leader or change agent or whatever else, you won’t have to say it. Everyone will already know it by your actions and work.

So don’t focus so much on the titles you give yourself to impress and convince everyone that you are an expert, change-agent, or leader. Put your focus on being you and the best professional and person you can be, and people will know you are a leader, expert, etc. without you having to tell them.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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One Step Further

I was trolling Twitter at 5:00 AM this morning when I came across some conversations over a very thought provoking SACollective Post by Jerad Green, @jeradgreen494, titled “Why I Feel White People Shouldn’t Run Multicultural Affairs”. And it got me thinking a lot about offices and centers dealing with marginalized populations and of course specifically multicultural offices.

Jerad makes some spot on points. One was the benefit of having like-identified leaders in key positions. For example, LGBTQIA Centers need a LGBTQIA identifying Director or a Women’s Center is best led when a female is the director. He also makes a great point in addressing the White Ally vs the White Savior, and I know many colleagues who are struggling to support but not triumph for people of color and being an ally rather than a savior.

However, in order to fully understand the conversation and points brought forth in the post, I needed to reframe the context the post was made in. And it simply came down to the jargon, definition and interpretation used for these types of offices.

For me, to really embrace the information and insights of my colleague, I needed to take the specifics out of the multicultural context and pin them next to Multicultural Affairs for a second and only keep the key concept presented; The philosophy that to best lead Multicultural Affairs, one must be able to identify with a marginalized population in order to best understand therefore educate on the intersectionality of identities and cultures and how to balance the voices of all into a comprehensive conversation and dialogue. 

As I was musing over this philosophy and the post, I realized that part of the disconnect for me was not understanding the definition and interpretation of “multiculturalism” by the author or institution. Let’s be honest, there is no singular definition, interpretation or practice of multicultural affairs. It has the ability to become a vast and varied term. So being able to replace the pinned situations and specific comments into a multicultural affairs area with racial issues as a significant component of its functions and mission, I was able to see the entire post from a more comprehensive position.

In line with this, I also thought about the offices that we’ve created in our field. We have LGBTQIA offices, women’s centers, Hispanic services, disability services, veteran services and even some have religious support offices and staff. But there are very few offices specifically dedicated to black students on our campuses. To me it then is understandable therefore that many of the issues, concerns and services are shifted to the overarching Diversity or Multicultural Offices. Thusly shifting the definition and interpretation of these offices and missions. Which leads to understanding why there is a conversation on whether whites have the ability to lead Multicultural Affairs, basing the criteria only on race and not another cultural identity they may have that provides them a similar understanding of being a marginalized population.

For myself, I tend to interpret Multicultural Affairs as not focusing on one identity and how it intersects and meshes with all other cultures and identities, but how a myriad of cultures and identities interact and co-exist in a space and what, how and when the relationships and connections move between them all. Also my interpretation of Multicultural Affairs works with how each of these offices which works with marginalized populations collaborate, educate and work together.

So, bringing it back around to Jerad’s post, I think that he hit on a topic that not only pushes out issues that need to be discussed and deals with leadership, privilege, and race but also what offices we choose to create and house on our campuses, how we define and interpret offices such as Multicultural Affairs, and our jargon that we use which leads to identifying who the privileged are and who are more inclined and prepared to lead specific offices and departments.

Just my thoughts on a very thought provoking post.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Posted in Higher Education/Student Affairs | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Quirky Tips To Keep Your Platforms Updated and Organized

So, let’s be honest: It’s a pain to keep your platforms updated and in order. We all experience that feeling of dread when you have to update your contact information or big life status across multiple platforms and it’s especially daunting if they’ve sat for months without much updating or if you are trying to transition to a more professional identity.

I’ve been through this binge updating process a few times, and over the years, I’ve found some quirky tricks that have helped me to keep everything updated. So I thought I would share some of these tricks and quirky practices I’ve adopted to help me keep my platforms updated.

Tip 1: Take Advantage of Saying Happy Birthday!

If you are one of those #SoMe Peeps who posts Happy Birthday to friends, then use those few minutes a day to also clean your friends list. If you don’t feel comfortable saying Happy Birthday to a person, then you probably shouldn’t be connected with them on Facebook. So instead of posting Happy Birthday, unfriend them. Yes, it may seem to be poor taste that you’re unfriending them on their birthday, but be honest, if you aren’t going to say it anyway, why prolong the inevitable of unfriending them? This way you can keep a majority of your friends list actively updated and it only takes a minutes or two in a route that you already practice.

Tip 2: Utilize About.Me

If you didn’t know it already, I’m on about 7 social media platforms (Surprise!). And let me tell you when I’d update them, I used to always forget which platform I’d updated last, and which ones I still needed to do. So I’ve utilized my About.Me profile to list all the platforms I’m on and then subsequently use this to help me keep track of my updating. It’s a quick and easy way to just go down the row of social media icon and update my profiles one at a time. It has definitely cut 15  or so minutes off my searching and typing of all my platforms and trying to remember which ones I’ve updated or not when I’m doing a major bio or life moment update.

Bonus tip: I also use About.Me as my base for my bio, and basically copy and paste it into each of my bios on my other platforms. 

Tip 3: Google Yourself

While many people use this as an ego boost, and I’ll be honest, it’s kinda cool to see that I’m Google-able, you can also use it to see what there is out in the online world about you. I Google myself once a week to see what pops up. While this is more of a crap-shoot rather than a scientific methodology, at times I’ve found it helpful. For one, I’ve found random platforms I’ve tried, but don’t use, and am able to delete those profiles, or at least deactivate them so they don’t come up if you search for me. I’ve also seen what I’m associate with through friends’ profiles via Google Images, and if they are not what I believe or want associated with my identity, I’ve been know to unfriend them. (Though those are extreme rare cases).

Again, this is not a scientific methodology  and you need to search multiple names (i.e. I seach Brian Proffer, Brian D. Proffer, Brian D Proffer and Brian David Proffer), but still, every little bit can help to keep your platforms up to date to reflect you in whatever period of life you are in. And Googling yourself only takes an additional 5 minutes or so of your time during your Monday Morning Routine or Friday Afternoon Slump.

So, I hope that one or two of these will help you maintain your profiles on a more regular basis without too much intrusion into your time.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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#MISOTS15 and #SOTU

Tuesday was a big night for Michiganders.

Governor Rick Snyder gave his Michigan State of the State Address at 7:00 PM and President Barack Obama gave his State of the Union Address at 9:00 PM.

So for those of you who follow me, you got more than the usual amount of political opinions because the two addresses landed on the same night.

At first I was skeptical about hem being on the same night. However it ended up being more interesting and comprehensive for me. It was quite intriguing to hear the two speeches the same night. And to compare the two agendas of #POTUS and Governor Snyder was even more fascinating.

As every city, state or national address, there was the boasting of and plans for economic growth and sustainability, call for more consistent fiscal responsibility and the traditional recognition of those who serve in our armed forces. They both also pointed out that it is the PEOPLE that government needs to address and understand. (Now whether or not their plans follow this point is a bit different, but they at least acknowledged it). Also, for this year, community colleges got a bump in support from both the #MISOTS15 and #SOTU which was nice to see (Woot woot higher education!).

However, beyond those few points, the addresses were pretty different. From the tone, delivery and even general context Governor Snyder and President Obama were on two different pages.

I think the most significant difference, for me, was addressing or lack of addressing civil rights.

In the Michigan State of the State, Snyder gave civil rights a wide berth. He graciously allotted a single line on his stance with any civil rights issue:

“The other thing I call for is a continuation of the dialogue and discussion on Elliott-Larsen and I appreciate the prior discussions that were had, but let’s keep up that dialogue and let’s show that we can deal with the issues of discrimination in our state.” ~Governor Rick Snyder, Michigan State of the State 2015

(Actually it was a sentence and a half, because he said “thank you” after this line).

In the State of the Union, Obama directly addressed civil rights issues through out the address including; equal pay for women, equal voting rights and voting accessibility, same-sex marriage, and briefly touched on Fergusson and New York. One of the more popular lines of his speech addressing civil rights was:

“That’s why we defend free speech, and advocate for political prisoners, and condemn the persecution of women, or religious minorities, or people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. We do these things not only because they’re right, but because they make us safer.” ~President Barack Obama, State of the Union 2015

Now both addresses lacked the traditional substantive plans and specific for the coming year, but then again it’s only a one hour address so I can’t expect their entire agenda or plan LOL. However, in my humble opinion, the content and context of their addresses can give more insight to their agendas than the actual words said in their speeches.

Regardless of the speeches and what they may or may not have said in them, civil rights will have a front row seat one way or another in the coming year and it’ll be interesting to see how Michigan’s strong economic and low civil rights agenda will align and execute in contrast or partnership with Obama’s moderate economic and strong civil rights agenda. I’m excited for the upcoming year and to see how things unfold.

And those are my thoughts on the #MISOTS15 and #SOTU. Whether you agree or not with me, I hope you watched one or both of the addresses and garnered your own opinions and thoughts! It’s the only way that we as a people can move our society forward, by educating ourselves and voicing our needs and thoughts, not only during election time but all the time.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

References:

Snyder, Rick (2015). Michigan State of the State Address. http://www.michigan.gov/documents/snyder/2015_Michigan_SOTS_Transcript_479562_7.pdf

Obama, Barack (2015). State of the Union Address. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/20/remarks-president-state-union-address-january-20-2015

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Authentic Me? My Feeling is in Play

I think it is very hard to be authentic and genuine on social media. While everyone says to “be authentic”…”be genuine”…”be honest and who you are”. It’s much more difficult and complex than just “being”.

I think everyone has spurts of truly authentic moments on social media. But if we are constantly thinking of what type of responses we might get to our tweets, how our posts may be interpreted, if they will get us noticed, will it help create our brand, or just making sure that we sound ‘politically correct” or “intellectual”, how truly authentic are we?

This is something I’ve been struggling with for months now. And I’ll be the first to admit I don’t have an answer to this. If you read through my posts and tweets, you will see my struggle of trying to find my authentic voice while also being a professional, human being, and who I am, and it is not a balance that I have close to perfecting. (At least my cute animal retweets are authentic :) lol)

I’m trying to be as honest as to what I feel and think, but in the back of my mind, many times I’m running those questions through my head and it has made me question if I’m being authentic to myself, especially when I decide to stay quiet with an opinion or a thought rather than “rocking the boat”.

Let’s be honest: One tweet can destroy a person or brand. The limited world of 140 characters and the ability to remove oneself from direct interaction with another human being by using Twitter or Facebook has created an unforgiving and harsh environment where it is hard and almost impossible to always and honestly be authentic. 

Sometimes I envy the younger generations coming up behind us. While we all cringe at the brutal honesty and emotions they share on their platforms, and wonder if their posts and tweets will have negative impacts on their college applications or job prospects, I have to give them props for being truly and brutally authentic about themselves and their thoughts and feelings.

At what point in time do we start losing that? The brutal honesty and authenticity of who you are? Is it because we enter the professional world means that authenticity and raw emotions must take a back seat to survival? Is it because we must brand ourselves as educated and that politically correct and upping one another to be more “expert” or “insightful” becomes more important than what you actually feel or believe or even just want to say? And then subsequently, are we really having those conversations that we are always saying we have if there is little dissent because of the lack of honest and genuine feelings and thoughts?

I’m not sure. I’ve always been an emotional person and my Feeling is always getting me in trouble.

I’ve looked through my posts from when I first began using social media. I’ve changed. I don’t share emotions often with the exception of my blog. Yes, it’s hugely embarrassing seeing what my thoughts and feelings on Facebook were back then and how silly they seem now (Let me tell you….Drrrraaaaaaaaaama). But it was what I was feeling and thinking at the time. And reading back through them, I’ve seen myself grow and I’ve actually been learning more about myself. I’ve seen my journey. I’ve also seen myself become less authentic on social media platforms. Part of it is growing up and becoming a professional. But part of it is because being authentic and genuine seem to be more buzzwords rather than actual practices that are acceptable on social media now a days.

I’ll be honest. I love those people I follow who share not just those thought provoking questions, or insights, but those who tell me that Paddington will or will not be the best movie that will come out in 2015; asking for help; sharing a panda photo with me because they know its my favorite animal; or telling me that dogs are better than cats when I post photos of my cat; or not being afraid of sharing what they are thinking even though it may not be popular.

Like I said, this is just something I’ve been thinking about lately. And that ultimately my goal is when I meet someone in person I want them to tell me that “who you are online is who you are in person….in tone, thoughts, personality, and all”. I want them to recognize and know the overly optimistic, panda loving, sometimes aloof, dedicated, silly, mature, complicated, developing, questioning, poor typing, mistake making, eclectic Brian.

And of course, odds are, there is no answer let alone an easy one to this, but its something I’m trying to understand better and find my balance.

Until next time

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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