Sydney Robinson ’19 wasn’t sure what her chances were when she decided to apply for a spot in the NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Now Professionals 2022 Cohort, which recognizes exceptional contributions from new professionals and graduate students within the organization.
But the Diversity and Inclusion Program Manager for the CSB+SJU Multicultural Center decided to give it a try. And sure enough, Robinson – who is also pursuing a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration at St. Cloud State University – was selected in recognition for her work in inclusion.
That is one of NAPSA’s five core guiding pillars along with integrity, innovation, inquiry and impact.
“It was honestly a shot in the dark,” said Robinson, whose role at CSB+SJU means she works directly with programs and organizations focused on women’s leadership, peer-to-peer mentoring and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice (DEIJ) initiatives.
She is also the advisor for Advocates for Inclusive Mentoring (AIM), a group that works to strengthen CSB’s traditionally underrepresented students’ personal development and leadership through collaborations with various academic groups on campus.
“But I figured if I didn’t try, it was already a no. Even though it said it was for people in their first year (on the job) like me, I figured there were still other people out there doing more than I was.”
CSB+SJU Director of Multicultural Student Services Malik Stewart has seen first-hand the impact Robinson has made since returning to her alma mater a year ago. And he said the honor is well-deserved.
“It’s no surprise to me that Sydney is being recognized at the national level for her work,” Stewart said. “We’re fortunate to have her back at CSB+SJU in a professional capacity. Her leadership has been felt across campus, but also importantly in the individual lives of our students.”
While a student at CSB, Robinson served as Vice President of the CSB Student Senate and in other leadership roles on campus, including with AIM. But the Las Vegas native said she was prepared to move on to new places after graduating three years ago.
But a call from CSB Vice President for Student Development Mary Geller altered those plans.
“She said they needed me,” Robinson recalls. “When I left, I felt like I’d graduated and I’d done all I could on this campus. It was time to pass the torch on to the next generation of leaders. But the Inclusive Mentoring program has been so important to me as a student. I couldn’t resist an opportunity to come back and continue to be part of that sisterhood.”
And she said she continues to be passionate about the work that is still to be done at CSB+SJU.
“I’d like to work myself out of a job,” she said. “But there’s always going to be ways to work on taking the inclusiveness here to another level. And as long as there is still work to be done, I’m going to keep going.
“It’s been a year officially now in February and it still feels like there’s always something new to work on every day. There’s always someone else to advocate for.”