Grateful for My Challenges

With only days to go until I sit down with family and friends for Thanksgiving, I wanted to give credence to some things and situations I am grateful for that I don’t normally acknowledge. Of course I’m grateful for the traditional things such as family, friends, loved ones, partners, good job, my fraternity, etc. But this year, after a good deal of growth and development, and with everything going on in the world, there’s another list that I’ve come to understand for me to be grateful for.

I’m grateful for being adopted to remind me to never take family for granted.

I’m grateful for having had experienced racism to remind me that the fight for equality is ever ongoing and to keep pushing forward.

I’m grateful for not getting everything my way because it reminds me to be humble and gracious.

I’m grateful for having been bully and bullied to remind myself to be compassionate and that there are two sides to every story.

I’m grateful for difficult days to remind me to be strong, diligent and persevere.

I’m grateful for having been kicked out of my childhood home because I came out as gay, to remind me to always accept and protects others, regardless their identity.

I’m grateful for the issues I have with money because it reminds me to be grateful for what I have.

I’m grateful for my struggles with drinking, because it reminds me that everything needs moderation.Grateful

I’m grateful for not being perfect because it reminds me not to be complacent and to continue to learn and grow.

And I’m grateful for these and other challenges to remind me that each day is precious and that on each day it is incumbent upon me to make the world a better place.

It’s a different kind of Thanksgiving list, but over the past few months I’ve come to acknowledge these as things to be grateful for that have helped shape me into the man I am today.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!


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11:11 Processing

Diwali, Veterans Day and #Mizzou. There’s a reason that these three events have converged on 11/11, a date which is connected with key historical events and holds a spiritual significance for many.

Today is another day in the fight against hate and intolerance. It’s becoming a dark and difficult time for people who are different, be it gender, sexual orientation, race, socioeconomic status, etc., because conversations are stopping and people are digging their heels in on either side.

Hope and discussions are turning into accusations and shaming. Open dialogues are closing. People are afraid to speak their mind. Due to the age of instant information, frustration, sadness, fear and even hate is taking over.

But I believe that today has mystically come together to remind us of the foundations of who we are and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel to remain focused on. It’s a day that has become one to help recenter ourselves.

In the United States, we are celebrating Veterans Day; a day to acknowledge and thank all the individuals who have served and are serving in order to preserve for our freedom and rights and keeping us safe. I know for me, that since my brother, Phil, was in the Marines, my understanding of the sacrifices our service people give has deepened. That their sacrifices allow me to have these conversations, to share my thoughts on my blog and to be who I am. it’s also a constant reminder that I need to fight my own fight to ensure freedom, equality, and liberty in my own way and to keep moving forward.

Keep moving forward…

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

The beautiful celebration of Diwali helps us to remember to move forward and that good will be victorious over evil. Its a reminder that there is always a light in the darkness. Perhaps its a little dimmer at times but its there and we need to keep moving towards it.

For me, the culmination of today’s converging events, serve as a reminder to listen and talk, support and challenge, teach and learn and to have patience and persistence. The road is never easy and has its challenges and dark times have to come, in order to give way for light to appear. But its up to each of us to push through the bad and the darkness, to keep fighting for what we feel  is our own truths and to allow the light to shine through.

Just some musing and thoughts as I process recent events and try and find my center to help me understand what is going on in the world around me.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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Welcome Silence

I’ve been working on a project for my home chapter of my fraternity, and have been knee-deep in almost 8 years of paperwork, files and awards. But, while I was sorting and compiling the information I needed, I began thinking about the awards my chapter has received and the effects of that acknowledgment, the practice of acknowledging others and a few #SAChat conversations that have been held over the past year on recognition and compensation.

We all want acknowledgement for our work, be it personal, professional, volunteer, etc. And when we don’t get acknowledgement we tend to become unsatisfied, unappreciated and potentially negative with our work, our environment and/or our colleagues. Thus how the gossip mills on nepotism, favoritism and politics begin.

And don’t get me wrong, I love being acknowledged, just like everyone else. And I love to acknowledge others as well, hence my Panda Awards :). But over time, I’ve come to favor acknowledgement in ways that doesn’t result in award hardware or public consumption and in some ways, is unbeknownst to anyone but me.

Its times when I help a student have one of those “lightbulb” moments and they run off and ace a paper or project and I get to give them a high five when they show me their “100%”.

Or when a friend launches a new blog and is excited to share their views with the world and I can help them set their blog up and be a sounding board for their ideas.

Sometimes its when a colleague and I get to have a heart to heart and I can just be a listening ear to support them in their journey as a professional.

Other times its when I hear critiques and push back on a new idea, and a conversation gets to occur to help create even deeper and better programming.

Its when I get no acknowledgement at all for good work that I know I’m doing good work.


We each clamor for credit and acknowledgement. And in part its because it is what gives us credibility and social and professional capitol. But in the end, isn’t it about how we live and love each other and how we make the world a better place?

Sometimes the awards and acknowledgments are what distracts us from what we have been awarded of doing. So, maybe finding the silent acknowledgements that we can each find comfort in, will endure longer than the plaques on the wall; because there will not only be the personal gratification but we’ll have helped someone else which will have lasting effects longer than any physical item we may be given.

Just some thoughts I’ve been mulling over the past few weeks.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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365 Days Later

365 days ago I started my journey at MSU and it’s been a great experience so far! I’ve learned a lot and thought I’d share 25 of the lessons I’ve learned over the past year as I reflect on my first year as  Spartan.

1) Gucci is not only a fashion designer

2) Team advising, while sounds complex, is a great concept

3) Deuteranopia is green-color blindness

4) M.A.C = M.A.C. NOT Mac

5) Football dictates student activities calendars on Big Ten campuses

6) Leading by example is ten times better than telling someone how to lead

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

7) The use of a good sign or poster can make someone’s day

8) Attendance of 300+ at events is possible

9) Homegrown is a great way to refer to original events created by students

10) Chicago has a hockey team

11) Having to find sponsorships and hosting fundraising events puts a whole new frame of reference for how to budget for an activities office

12) Having support from supervisors and co-workers for professional development is fantastic

13) A campus Union can really feel like the “living room of campus”

14) Assessment, when used, helps SO much

15) Picking your March Madness Bracket by how well you did with interviews at those institutions gets you 3rd place in the tournament :)

16) More offices and departments should use Google Docs

17) New Jersey has great pizza

18) Safety and Security Compliance training is a process…a long process

19) It takes effort to reach out and break down silos

20) It takes me 37 minutes to walk from one end of campus to the other

21) Meetings over sushi, ice cream or coffee are the best meetings

22) D.O.S.E. is a concept that every service office should practice

23) Biggby…’nuff said

24) Paperwork increases as you move up the ranks

25) Pandas look great in Green and White

Brian 4

Until next time!

Peace Love and Pandas!

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Fighting Desensitization


I was in my 9th grade high school biology class when it happened. It was…



I was walking between first and second period of my senior year, when the first plane hit. It was…

September 11


It was a transition meeting of the Student Governments, three weeks before graduating with my B.A., when we got first reports. It was…

Virginia Tech


I woke up early to work on my application to Graduate School (late admission) to see my TV screen flooded with images about Colorado. It was…

Aurora Theater Shooting


I was in the Eastern Michigan University Library, in my first semester of Graduate School, when my twitter feed began to go crazy about Connecticut. It was…

Sandy Hook Elementary

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

My generation has grown up with school shootings, mass killings, bomb threats and 9-11. For two of three graduations I have participated in, I have adorned my graduation gowns with ribbons in honor/memoriam of events from that year, 9-11 and Virginia Tech.

And over time, for one reason or another, I have begun to become desensitized to the significance of similarly occurring events, as has the rest of my generation and those who follow. And lately I’ve come to realize that this act of desensitization scares me.

The events I mention above are just the ones that I relate to as key points in my life and how they affected how I relate and understand society and therefore have become ingrained in my life journey.

But because of recent events, and having been through several annual trainings lately on active shooter protocols, let’s address school shootings. The numbers are daunting. According to Everytown Research Organization, between December of 2012 and December 2014 the United States has averaged one shooting a week on the property of a K-12 or Higher Education establishment. Also according to Everytown Research Organization as of yesterday, October 11, 2015, there have been 52 incidents of gunfire on the premise of an educational institution. Only a third of those have resulted in no injuries or deaths.

But as I mentioned previously, have you noticed that shootings have no longer become a significant “stop and pay attention” moment? We barely acknowledge the gravity and growing frequency of these incidents. Rather, they are simply being added to a growing list of “should be dealt with topics”. We no longer take that double look when we hear about another shooting. We have desensitized ourselves and disengaged ourselves from these incidents, unless they occur to us directly.

Now, listening and watching comments over social media, there seems to be a feeling of “we can’t do anything but just hope it doesn’t happen to us”. And that, I feel, is a lie we tell ourselves to get out of having to address and deal with another societal issue in our lives and on our campuses.

But there are real issues behind these incidents, beyond the events themselves; depression, mental illness, physical abuse, mental abuse, lack of community, lack of support, bullying, harassment, and the list goes on. Yes it’s true, we can’t stop a person from entering our campuses with these weapons and doing harm. But we can do everything we can to prevent it. And these are issues we are already or should already be addressing.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of gun control you have to acknowledge that this is growing and we need to address it.

Courtesy of Brian D. Proffer

Now, some may wish to address recent events and shootings via legislation, others through mentorship, while others counsel and mediate and yet others advocate and lobby. But we can not let time and frequency allow us to desensitize ourselves to the issue(s). And we have to acknowledge that we each have the power to take back our campuses and society one student at a time. A smile, a conversation, a friendly check-in or going the extra mile to help a student out whether or not it’s in our job description could be all that it takes to help divert a potential situation.

So what will you do to be proactive handling these issues?

Just food for thought.

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!


Everytown Research Organization (2015). Guns in Public Places: School Shootings.

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Embrace It

I thought I’d share some musings I’ve had lately on Leadership and Greek Life. I’ve been thinking a lot on leadership and my style all month thanks to Kimberly White’s month long series on leadership, which you can find here: Life in the Yellowhammer State. And with Fall rush having been in full swing at the same time, it made perfect sense to reflect on those two topics.

Over the past few weeks I’ve noticed how much I have changed and grown being a volunteer for my fraternity over the past 5 years. For those of you just joining my little blogging journey, I am a proud brother of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and volunteer my time to advising the chapters here in the Mitten State:

Alpha Zeta

Alpha-Zeta, University of Michigan

Delta Psi

Delta-Psi, Michigan State University

Omicron Rho

Omicron-Rho, University of Michigan-Flint

Sigma Zeta

Sigma-Zeta, Northwood University

Sigma Eta

Sigma-Eta, Central Michigan University

Sigma Kappa

Sigma Kappa, Grand Valley State University

I wasn’t looking to become a volunteer for my fraternity. But when the fraternity started our chapter at Northwood University, and I was asked to serve, I said yes. Since then, I’ve been asked to serve in multiple roles. In some ways it’s been the most challenging endeavor I’ve ever taken on while in other ways it’s one of the most rewarding.

The Brothers I get to work with challenge me. (And much to their chagrin, I challenge them right back.) But while I have hopefully helped them to learn the responsibility that has been handed to them to become better men and to improve society and their surroundings as well as themselves, I have found myself growing with them.

My leadership has changed in some ways due to my work with the fraternity and in other ways I have discovered new skills and perspectives working as a volunteer; Decisiveness has never been one of my strong suits, but over the past few years my confidence in myself has grown to make decisions quickly and as efficiently and purposefully as possible. I have learned to balance big picture and the small details. I have learned that being a leader does not mean everyone likes you, but rather everyone trusts you. I have learned how to get back up after being knocked down. I have learned to foster leadership and strengths in many of the young men I’ve had the privilege to work with. I’ve also had to learn to have some tough conversations and make difficult decisions that have resulted in some leaving our Order.

Greek Life is not for everyone, and its not perfect. But for me, I am the man, the professional and in the Student Affairs field because of my experiences as a Greek Life member. And the best part about being a volunteer, for me, is when it “clicks” with the Brothers and they step up and become leaders on their campuses and proving the Greek stereotypes wrong and being the best men that they can be.

And so to close, I want to say congrats to the chapters of Kappa Sigma Fraternity in Michigan for your successful rushes and willingness to share the gift of Kappa Sigma with your communities, large or small. Welcome to the new pledges and treasurer this time of learning and getting to know your new Brothers. To all, the road is difficult but rewarding, has its highs and lows, will change over time, and will challenge you to become better men but do not be afraid of the challenge, but rather embrace it.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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A Morning of Processing

There are points in life when you realize the true nature of people and leaders. For some, their true nature is great and for others, not so great.  In my experience, it will normally appear through the actions of a person and leaders in difficult times.

We’ve all been there. I’m there right now with some people/leaders in my personal life.

So when the ugliness of some individuals arise, how do we rise above it and continue to move forward? How does one get balance and perspective and not mired down? How can a person use it to get fired up to work even harder and be even better? How does one not let emotions color the goals and long term plans that are needed? How does one not create an ugly nature in response and rather keeps things productive and optimistic?

Its painful to see the true nature/actions/intentions of a person(s) at times. I’ve been through quite a few situations that have made me ponder these questions.

This time, though, it has really made me take a step back and re-exam the relationship and my loyalty to individuals and organizations.

I’m no where near perfect and no doubt have made people contemplate about my true nature after actions or decisions. But I hope that I’ve always done the right thing though. I’ve never really asked for leadership positions but have been asked to lead. But it’s still hard to reflect and to accept that good leadership does not always equal good things for all.

But I digress back to my original point; how does one move beyond and continue to focus on good work after an act of betrayal?  I suppose for me, I’m reaching out to my support system to try and get perspective and keep me grounded. I’m trying to reflect and understand others reactions. I have also been talking with people on whether or not its time to finally move on and close this absolutely key phase in my life or if I can still do good work.

I debated on posting on this. But in the end, I think I’m hoping this post will 1) help me process things, and 2) maybe provide some food for thought for everyone; That as we lead and as we do, hopefully, good work, we keep in mind to not let greed, power, jealousy, anger, etc. to guide our actions and decisions. It’s a struggle and WAY easier said than done. But if one becomes ugly inside, a person’s good work will turn bad and good leadership will become bad leadership.

As you can tell I’m in a bit of a tailspin with this one, cause my blogging is all over the place this morning. I’ve been editing it to make more sense but it’s really just going to be a processing post to help me work through it. But as I wrote earlier, I feel that everyone battles with these questions, and there’s nothing wrong with acknowledging the struggle. It proves we are human and are not heartless individuals. And perhaps this is just another layer to leadership; understanding and rising above the negative for the positive potential and also knowing when to fight and keep working and when to let it go.

Just food for thought. Thanks for processing with me today.

Until next time,

Peace, Love and Pandas!

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