A couple years ago, I ran for a position with the graduate student government. I won the election and became the vice president of external affairs. The next year I ran unopposed for re-election.
During my two years as VPEx, I served on the board of directors of the University of California Student Association, a coalition of the 10 campuses and over 200,000 graduate, undergraduate and professional students at the UC. UCSA became a big part of my life, and I really enjoyed my two years, even when I had frustrating conversations in the meetings.
The pros outweighed the cons. I was always traveling, but I earned frequent flyer miles and cashed those in to visit family in Texas and friends in Chicago (twice). I spent less time with family and my ex-boyfriend complained that I was always gone, but I met lots of new people and was inspired by undergrads at UCLA. I “white-lined” (or lobbied) at the often boring UC Regents meetings in San Francisco. Afterward, I’d treat myself to retail therapy at H&M (conveniently located across the street from our hotel) and had ice cream with Rio at Mitchell’s. Sometimes I felt like we wouldn’t see results from all our hard work and that it’d be impossible to get a fee [tuition] freeze with such a bleak budget situation, but then it happened and students and their families saved money.
When I finished my term last June, I knew I’d miss being involved. I couldn’t just leave the organization, so I signed up to be a part of UCLA’s graduate student delegation for the summer conference in Santa Barbara. I also signed up to attend my third Student Lobby Conference in Sacramento even though I had to miss a day of the conference due to my cousin’s wedding.
I arrived at the hotel a little after 10 a.m. I was still half asleep when I saw the tallest Mexican ever (TME), a fellow grad student from UC Riverside. He was surprised to see me.
TME bent down and I tiptoed a little so that our hug wouldn’t feel physically awkward. And it wasn’t. He gives the kind of hugs you need when you’re still tired because you didn’t get enough sleep, you almost getting a speeding ticket and nearly missed your flight. In short, it’s the best kind of hug.
We talked a little before I had to check in to my room.
“Cindy! I missed you!”
“I missed you too.”
“You weren’t here yesterday. Are you making a guest appearance?”
“Something like that.”
“Did you drive up?”
“No way. I flew.”
A few hours later, I bumped in to the executive director of the organization. She gave me a big hug too.
“I missed you,” she said.
“I know… well, I mean I miss you guys too,” I replied.
Throughout the day, I’d hear similar comments a few more times and got more big hugs.
I knew I’d miss UCSA, but I didn’t expect the staff and other current/former board members to miss me much. They’re far too busy and the organization runs perfectly fine without me.
But they do miss me, and it feels nice.