Dr. Tim Miller hosts another episode of the Rebound podcast with Michael Facey, an alum of the College Student Personnel Administration graduate program at JMU. Michael discusses some challenges he experienced as a Hall Director making the transition from undergrad to grad school, and some lessons he learned as he navigated moving into his career after grad school.
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Dr. Tim Miller: . [00:00:00] All right, well, welcome to everybody to the latest this rebound podcast. Once again, I'm Dr. Tim Miller. Uh, I am super excited to have Michael Facey joining us. I have stuff I could tell you about Michael, but I want to let Michael tell his own story. Uh, so Michael, could you just give us a little background? Tell us about yourself. Tell us about your, your life journey. Whatever you think's important for us to.
Michael Facey: Absolutely, and first and foremost, thank you so much for having me here, Dr. Miller. So, yeah, I'll, I'll, I'll jump right in. So, Michael Facey, originally from Brooklyn, New York. Pretty much raised in the 7 57 area of Virginia, so Chesapeake, Virginia Beach. Grew up there. Went to Radford University for undergrad and started my journey at J M U for graduate school. I was a hall director for a little bit in the village. And, um, Ikenberry and then in Bluestone and Hoffman had a, had a great two years I was in the C S P A program, college student Personnel [00:01:00] Administration. For those that don't know, there's so many things I can, I can touch on. So, one thing, thinking about just Dr. Miller and how we were able to cross paths , um, I remember maybe first week of orientation. Or something, I think it was a division meeting for student affairs. And I'm in the crowd, and this was actually your first year, uh, Dr. Miller, Sergeant as vice president at J M U. And you're up and you, you're welcoming everyone, introducing yourself and you, you give out your phone number to like a crowd of hundreds and everyone's like, man, that's really bold. These going, this one's gonna be blowing up. So that was just really awesome. And then several weeks later, uh, I come across an opportunity. Of, um, students being able to actually shadow you and, and get an idea of how, you know, crazy and impactful your schedule is like all the time. Yeah. So when I got one of that, I immediately, uh, texted you , [00:02:00] since it has number and to my surprise, you, you know, almost immediately responded back and we were able to set it up and that. It speaks to one, just how incredible you were as a mentor for me, but towards my aspiration of wanting to be, um, a student affairs professional and hopefully aspire to be a vice president or even even a president of a university one day. Um, so that's why I decided to pursue that, that graduate program. But during my time at J M U, I served as graduate Student Association president. That was an incredible experience and also, I was able to, uh, revive my, uh, fraternity's organization at J M U Phi Beta Sigma, and that was significant to me just to bring, you know, cultural and Greek awareness and be able to bring an opportunity for, you know, students who look like me, you know, black men. To have the opportunity [00:03:00] to have a, you know, a opportunity or outlet for Greek life that I went through myself as an undergrad. And of course, uh, beyond academics, also being a hall director. Uh, that was a, that was a great experience too. It led me to what I'm doing now at George, uh, Georgetown University.
Dr. Tim Miller: So, let's go back a little in your story. You're a first generation college student.
Michael Facey: Yes.
Dr. Tim Miller: Talk about the, I want to talk, have you talk about two transitions. One, coming to college as a first generation college student, and then two, the transition from undergrad to.
Michael Facey: So the journey as a, as a first generation college student, how I can best articulate it is me kinda learning everything on the fly. That, that's how I, I best could depict it. Just, um, you know, but not ever being really aware of how, how set back I was, quote unquote, from like [00:04:00] my peers who. Have who come from families with that type of, you know, institutional understanding or just background of being educated or college educated. So in a sense, like, um, what do they call it? I, uh, syndrome. They, they call it a type of syndrome. Okay. Not to like, try to medically , uh, call anything. In a sense, just winging it, you know, like just truly following my passion and earlier before that understanding that I had to like reverse engineer my journey. And I was fortunate enough to have mentors and, you know, guidance from administrators. In grad school and undergrad to kind of show me things that they did to get to, you know, where they are today. So that was, that was the blueprint I used being a first [00:05:00] generation college student and not having that, you know, just initial understanding. You know, uh, starting my journey and just figuring it out along the way. And your second question, what was it?
Dr. Tim Miller: Yeah. So I have a note here from the prep you did for this about having to learn how to cook when you went from being an undergrad to a grad. Yeah. So lifestyle changes from undergrad to grad. Can you talk a little bit about that? Something as simple as that.
Michael Facey: Right. Cooking, um, Yeah, so it's my surprise. Um, so undergrad, you know, coming from having a meal plan and running it up and being left. Basically like charging it to zero all the way to like Thanksgiving break or spring break to like now I'm using other people's swipes and stuff like that, right? So like I get to grad school and I'm thinking, okay, it'll be the same situation. I have a meal plan. And then it's like the rude awakening. Nope, you have a kitchen in your apartment though, , you know? So I'm like, man, [00:06:00] okay. This is a rude awakening, but. I figured it out. That's something I was able to get from my family, you know, cooking tips, recipes, you know, things like that. So I tried it, ended up working. I failed definitely a couple times. An em, embarrassing story I'll share. I was an ien berry and I was, I was making fried chicken. It was my favorite food at the time, and I ended up, Making it so bad that the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate. Um, this is my first time sharing with , anyone like an administrator. But yeah, so that was really embarrassing, especially when my RAs found out that it was me, the hall director that caused that. So yeah, that just goes to show like things that I had to. Things that the environment of grad school had to, you know, prep me for as being a first generation college student. Yep.
Dr. Tim Miller: And I hate to burst your bubble, but I knew that, actually I remember that. Cause I remember when the report came through and [00:07:00] they're like, oh yeah, one of the hall directors was, you know, cooking and they emptied the whole building. And I was like, and they told me, I never told you cause I didn't wanna put, I didn't wanna rub in.
Michael Facey: It's fine.
Dr. Tim Miller: So Well, did you hear, we're knocking down eich.
Michael Facey: No. Wow. Yep. I was told that wouldn't happen in like 20 years.
Dr. Tim Miller: Yep. This, this May.
Michael Facey: Wow. Is is like the whole village going or just what?
Dr. Tim Miller: Yep. Yeah, that's a whole nother conversation. But yeah. So I'll save you a brick though. I'll make sure you get a brick from Ikenberry .
Michael Facey: Please. Please.
Dr. Tim Miller: Um, so then Michael, let's spend some time on the Hall director. I know you've shared some thoughts about, you know, you had a lot of supervision changes. Um, not a lot of diversity in the space. Um, maybe a challenging evaluation with some feedback. Can you just talk about that? I feel like that's a really good sort of story for us to wrap, wrap around your sort of rebound story here for our students to hear about.
Michael Facey: Yeah.
Dr. Tim Miller: What was it like to be in that space and changing [00:08:00] bosses and divert lack of diversity and getting some tough feedback? Can you talk, just talk through that for.
Michael Facey: Yeah, so essentially, you know, me being a, a hall director, um, for both years as a grad student, it was essentially my like real first taste of a professional experience and definitely a non-traditional one, you know, um, most were able to settle in with like having familiarity with, you know, the same, uh, consistent supervisor, um, you know, scenery, what so have you, but my. My journey was a bit unorthodox. Um, and just understanding to your point, the, the lack of, you know, diversity that I, I was used to, to a certain extent, but not, you know, understanding how, how that'll translate to, you know, my professional relationship to someone who's supervising me. Type of support that I [00:09:00] realized that actually needed to feel successful and thrive in that type of space. That's something that I was able to really, um, process and later on articulate, um, having gone through that experience, but essentially one of, one of the, you know, key moments of me rebounding, quote unquote, and, and bouncing back happened from my second. Supervisor, uh, during my first year. So I had two supervisors my first year, uh, as a hall director. And it was a bit of a big surprise actually, when evaluation season comes around and I went from my first semester having a, you know, you're doing a good job. No, you know, red flags, no concerns or anything. So then my second semester, Under a new supervisor getting basically a needs improvement. Um, and that was kind of the summary of my [00:10:00] evaluation. So, you know, and, and not really at the time feeling like I had the proper explanation or tools, uh, given to me to kind of set myself up to do better. Yeah. Um, you know, the following year, my second year as a hall director, Yeah, that, that's something that I really took seriously and I coulda went a lot of different ways with it. I coulda, you know, got down and out about it. I coulda, you know, fought back or tried to appeal it and, you know, dismissed accountability. But what I did do, I looked in the mirror and. I think I knew deep down that I didn't do the best that I could have done, even if I didn't think I deserved that type of evaluation. I know that, okay, this should be able to unlock my full potential Yeah. In this role. Um, and, and how I show up to work and really take it seriously. So that's what I did in my, in my second year. I remember. Taking that [00:11:00] evaluation. I had a physical copy and I taped it on my wall in my apartment. Uh, so it was visible and I could see it, um, every day pretty much. And that's something that stuck with me and reminded me, you know, everyone's watching. You know, I, it's all, I'm already pretty visible cuz when I'm a hall director, but you know, I'm the eldest around a bunch of first year students who I'm overseeing in my buildings. But just making sure. aside from, you know, the, the huge responsibilities of, of a hall director, those little things and little details, they matter as well. Um, and those little details add up into becoming big things. So I was hard on myself, but I, I think it worked out well and it showed in my evaluation all throughout my second year, and that's something that sticks on me even now in my professional.
Dr. Tim Miller: Yeah. So Michael, let me ask you what might feel like an impossible question. Why do you think you responded to it the way you did versus the other options of just being mad [00:12:00] about it? Or like why did you choose that direction?
Michael Facey: Yeah. I think I've, I've always been, um, pretty good with accountability, um, ever since I was young. I'm the oldest out of, um, out of four in total. I was raised by a single mom, you know, and just getting in trouble a lot. When I was younger, I was always kind of, uh, encouraged not to make any excuses and able to process, you know, things that I could have done better to make any situation, you know, positive or better than what it ended up being, or improved results, um, per se. So I think that just translated into. You know, school and working in this case, being a hall director, um, and taking the onus on me and just through, you know, professional development and, um, some of my greatest [00:13:00] inspirations. People like, you know, Kobe Bryant, you know, rest in peace or just other, other public figures, hearing certain quotes that, you know, saying once you decide to give someone else, you know, power over you and try to dismiss accountability, you lose. Right. You know, and you, you give away ownership to making the situation better. But if you decide to own it and use that power to, you know, change your attitude, change whatever you can in the situation, then that, that makes you more powerful.
Dr. Tim Miller: No, that's great. I love that. I, uh, four different directions I could go. Let me, um, let, let's go to the end of your time at jmu. You're a hall director. You're finishing up grad school. You're trying to find a job. And then Covid happens, and now you're here. Everyone else is gone, but you're still here. Just, I guess, talk to me about the end, like the, the way, how did you end all those surrounded by challenges [00:14:00] and then, you know, we'll get into the rest of your career later, but maybe how did you end JMU and the Covid world and sort of that first job? Does that sound right? Are you good?
Michael Facey: Yeah, man, COVID was a time, oh my goodness. I, I spent that time really isolated. You know, the, the program obviously, you know, ended really abruptly. There was no graduation. The whole world was just kind of on pause. I feel like my, my plate was still, uh, full. I was actually still trying to complete my, uh, my portfolio for a good amount of time. I had, I had some rewrites I had to do. But yeah, just, you know, being in a leadership position. Like a hall director in such a time of like uncertainty and having to communicate with, you know, your staff members and just, you know, the students that you oversee. I think that was another just example of me having to like, no matter what was going on at the time, me [00:15:00] needing to like try my best to rise above it so I could set a good example of how I felt best to, you know, move forward and, yeah, really lead by. On the other hand of that, like me recognizing, okay, it's the end of my graduate experience and it's time for me to find a job. I just, I felt such a, uh, lack of development per se. Like, I, I feel like the end of that year, it was like a big chunk of, you know, something that I was supposed to gain for me to really feel set up for. For that next level of like going into a job in my professional career. And that, that had me down for a bit. I'm not gonna lie, it, it, it messed with me mentally. It had me really doubt on myself and, and not as confident as I should have been. You know, doing all the great things and cool things I did during my, my undergrad and graduate, um, experience. But thankfully, I, I sought out, you know, my, my current, um, at the time, my current [00:16:00] supervisor, you, Dr. Miller. and some of the, uh, trusted mentors to help me guide, like snap me into shape with like, interview skills and just really conceptualizing my, my trajectory moving forward. Cause at that time, no one knew what was going on. So that kind of shows how y'all were able to lead by example, um, in such a trying time. So, yeah. Yeah, I hope that that paints a good picture of how it. So let's talk about jobs since then. So you got the first job, uh, we don't need to say where or anything like that, but now the first job, you know, you've left there.
Dr. Tim Miller: So can you just talk about career since you left JMU and what are some, maybe some lessons learned? You know, as we've got think about the fact that we're hoping, like a bunch of the current C S P A students that are about to graduate are gonna listen to this. Uh, we also have large, large number of other graduate students and, uh, first year students that. Looking for jobs right now and wondering about their next [00:17:00] step in their career. Can you just share us sort of your journey and what were the good parts, hard parts, all the, all the parts that you're willing to share?
Michael Facey: Yeah, definitely. Um, and I love to stress some points too, things that I definitely overlooked or didn't pay enough attention to during my time as a graduate student and definitely the job search season. Towards the end of your second year, the, there's so much pressure to maybe be among the first in year cohort to actually land a job, you know, or get an on-campus interview. Um, and maybe not so much considering, okay, is this opportunity actually gonna benefit me in the long run? I is the, is the environment of the institution or the depart. Good for my mental health. Can I see myself positively working with this person who's gonna be my supervisor or, you know, these colleagues And just the, the totality of the situation that you could begin yourself into, right? [00:18:00] All the things that matter and not so much a title. You know, to be really transparent, the title was really something I was concerned about. I was like, man, I don't want anything less than a being an assistant director, you know? And come to find out. In high ed, titles don't, they don't really matter. They, they depend on the institution, you know, they don't, sometimes they don't even amount to, you know, pay or things like that. So that's something that was a learning curve for me. But yeah, things that I learned throughout my professional journey so far, just all those things, all the, whether it be red flags or just, uh, things I overlooked wanting to be in a place that could really. Have my potential, you know, shown and be in a situation I could thrive in, in, in my first couple of positions professionally. That's something that I wasn't really, um, as receptive to or didn't look. [00:19:00] Um, into as much as I should have. So that's some advice I'll definitely throw out there to any cspa or, um, or anyone in that matter when you're looking to, you know, go into your field, um, make sure that the totality of the situation benefits you and not just any e external factors or validation or trying to be first in your cohort or your situations.
Dr. Tim Miller: Michael, can I ask you a couple follow up there before you move on? Yeah, definitely. So, I remember myself going out and I was the last person in my cohort to get a job. Um, cause I wanted to work in community service learning and there were three jobs available in the whole country, . Um, but I also remember ignoring red flags and to my detriment in the long term. So I wanna go a little deeper into the whole sort of the concept of don't get sucked into salary title and don't ignore red flags. Can you tell me. You don't need to say the school or anything like that, but can you talk about how did the red flag feel? [00:20:00] Like, how did you know that was a thing? You're like, I remember my moment, but I want to, I wanna be able to share with people like, what do you mean by red flag and how does it feel when you did it? And I remember for me, I ignored it. I'm like, but the school I hear it's so amazing and it's all but who you work for matters. And I had some concerns and red flags about who my boss was. And those played out over my first year. But I wanted to be at the school. It was a. You know, all that kind of stuff. Can you talk about like, what does the red flag feel like? And I don't know, does that make sense?
Michael Facey: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I could be specific without giving names or anything like that. So my, my first role put like this, it was, um, across country, so away from the East coast, and I was basically like the student affairs generalist, you know, it wasn't really in the functional area that I would've preferred. My next time around job searching, the main things I was concerned about was getting into the, the functional area, you know, [00:21:00] that I wanted to, and getting closer to home, back east, and of course, a, a slide more money along the way or at a more prestigious institution, you know, all the things that really don't matter, you know, in the long run. Those were the things I was paying attention to. So some things that I overlooked was you. Going for this particular job that, you know, checked all the boxes, you know, externally or things I was looking for or more invested in at the time. Um, I wasn't paying attention to tone from a supervisor. I didn't ask the, you know, important questions of, you know, what they was looking for, how they thought I may, you know, fit in the role, what they saw on me. I just, I was so ready to, just wanted to impress. You know, and feel like I could be anything for anybody, like a Swiss Army knife or something, without really accepting my real skills and my real, [00:22:00] you know, talents and expressing that. And then it didn't come until later when I'm like establishing a role for at least a couple months or so that they were looking for something totally different in, you know, experiences or skill sets. I didn't have at the time. Um, but those things weren't communicated. It was a two-way street. I feel like, you know, in circumstances and situations are really key too. Like I think that employer was just really desperate and needed someone in the role, you know? And you know, I might have got beside myself or bighead in thinking, oh, they're choosing me, they like me. It's like, nah, they're just desperate , they need someone. So like, didn't assess the landscape of. You know, that situation correctly. So yeah, that's, that's how it felt. It felt like, you know, me being bamboozled, you know, almost saying, oh, they lied to me, was like, no, if you switch that, that framing and really take ownership of it was like, [00:23:00] no, I could have done so many things to avoid me getting into the situation that ultimately didn't work out. I, I left way earlier than I expected it. It put me in. A bad spot for a little while, but that was the ultimate like wake up call, you know, knowing that that's something that I had to address and couldn't continue to do, um, if I wanted my career to go where I wanted to go.
Dr. Tim Miller: Sure. No, that's great. I, I really appreciate that. I think there's some real sort of sage advice in there of if, I love the whole concept of you got lied to, but you sort of let yourself get lied to, right? I mean, you set yourself up to be lied to. And they might not even know they lied. They were lying. They might have been so desperate. They were, you know, just happy to get people in the door.
Michael Facey: Yeah.
Dr. Tim Miller: So, Michael, I, the only other question I have for you is, what's the one last sort of advice, perspective, insight, whatever, that you wanna leave people? Like what's the, when someone finishes listening to the Michael [00:24:00] Facey podcast for on rebound, what do you want them to know or hear? What's a life lesson that you've gotten? Yeah, let me stop setting that up. What, what do you want to have your last words here to everybody about your own life, your own rebound story, et cetera?
Michael Facey: Man. Um, something i, I want to take or want people to take from this is, you know, it's, it is been the common theme even now, um, in my current, you know, situation and aspirations that I have is, is just framing. You know, like around things that may happen to you or, or mistakes that you may make along the way. Everyone makes them, you, you even admitted to yourself making them, um, coming out of, uh, um, your graduate experience. But I think, you know, as long as you're able to learn from it and have a [00:25:00] positive frame of mind. How you're gonna use that experience moving forward. And, and that's the, I think that's the true meaning of resilience, you know, falling down and being able to get up again and, and stick to your plan. Even if you have to change course a little bit. Being able to really look and try to reverse engineer your way and figure out those steps you need to take or, and in your journey you're gonna get knocked down, but when you get back up, you, you know, figure. Where you may have failed along the way, and it's important to implement those lessons so you can keep going further. And I hope, you know, during my story, you've all been able to hear, you can visualize and see kind of the, the missteps that I had, but also the successes. Um, and why those successes came is because before, you know, pointing any fingers or looking outward, I had to look inward first and recognize, you know, either [00:26:00] characteristics. Or, or things that I was, I was lacking that I needed to obtain, you know, getting really serious about self-improvement and, and professional development and really pushing myself to, you know, give back on track to, to where I want my, my, my, my ending to be pretty much. So, yeah, that's, that's why I hope everyone can take from this.
Dr. Tim Miller: No. And Michael, I think that's great. I think about, you know, every situation, every challenge, every setback is, has learning in it. If you'll let, if you'll let yourself learn, and you know, like I shared, I, I didn't learn immediately from my setback, but eventually looking back, I know there was a lot of real good learning in there for me. Um, well, Michael, I am proud of you. We are proud of you. We're really excited. I'm excited you're up in the Northern Virginia area. Next time I get up there, I'll have to make. You know, I'm there. Maybe we can catch up. But you're, you're making the C S P A program proud up there at Georgetown. And even though it's a rival for me, for my old school, I'm still proud of you doing that. Um, but yeah, [00:27:00] everyone, this has been the Rebound podcast with Michael Facey. Uh, so excited to have, a, Proud Jamie Anne Radford alum. Join us today and stay tuned for our next future, um, Rebound podcast everybody. So take care. Thanks.