What part of your identity are you covering at BSU?

If you haven’t been to one of the Office of Institutional Diversity’s Lunchtime series workshops, you are missing out!  Missing out on great food, great company and rich discussion.

I have attended a few of the Diversity Lunchtime sessions and a few of the Supporting the Success of Female Employees sessions.  In October, I attended one of the later sessions and saw that it was titled “Uncovering Authentic Leadership.”  This title, admittedly confused me a bit – I was curious what it could possibly mean to uncover authentic leadership.

After eating a delicious meal, we viewed this video: Uncovering Authentic Leadership (it’s about 15 minutes long, but so worth the watch).

In it, the speakers, who are all pretty well respected leaders, speak about parts of their identities that they have covered to get ahead in their careers.  But more importantly, they talk about how successful they were once they actually uncovered those aspects of their identity.

One woman really spoke to me when she talked about her responsibility as a working mother.   She stated that balancing the duties of mom and leader at work were an area in which she often struggled – she expressed that there were times at work in which she felt the need to cover the “mother” identity.

Another woman’s story hit me when she spoke about a family member having a medical emergency, and she needed to take time out of work to be there for that family member.  At first, she was ashamed, or felt the need to hide the fact that she was not going to make it to a very important day of work because she was concerned for and needed to be by the side of a sick family member.  This hit home for me specifically as I just experienced a similar situation where my father’s fairly routine knee replacement turned into a terrible scare – where we (and his doctors) did not think he would live to recover from heart complications that happened in the middle of that surgery.  I tried to pull my emotions together enough to come to work and get my job done (it was a very busy time for this Housing Operations Assistant Director) but luckily, my supportive colleagues and boss realized the need for my family responsibilities to trump my work responsibilities.

I put out on social media what my father was going through and asked for prayers for our family – I knew that many of my BSU colleagues would see it.  I knew this would uncover a few things about myself – I needed help, I was a Christian, and I was not as “put together” as I wanted people to think I was.

I have to tell you – I was very touched to have so many of you ask how my family was doing when you saw me after that.  I had so many of you tell me that you had been through something similar and would be here for me if I needed to chat.  I had many visitors come to make sure I was ok – clearly that wasn’t why I posted what I did, but I was so thankful for that response.

I formed some great connections through uncovering that part of me – and many of you still ask about my dad – deepening that connection.

There are a few areas of my identity that I realized I do cover while working here – but one thing really resounded for me as a result of this session was that BSU is a working environment that allows me to be me, to my own comfort level, and supports me for the authentic person that I am – and I appreciate that so much.



Amanda Surgens is the Assistant Director for Housing Operations in Residential Life and Housing

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