September Sheros Series: Amber Garrison Duncan

“Talking with you has made my soul happy.” This is what Amber said to me after the first time I met her face-to-face after interacting with her for over a year through social media and phone calls..

Amber is kind, honest, and generous in a way that our field and world could use a good deal more of.  Amber did not know me from Eve when I was unemployed. I reached out to her (based on a recommendation from a mutual contact) and asked if she would be willing to talk to me about assessment in Student Affairs. She said yes. Three pages of quickly hand written notes and an hour and a half later, I learned more than any textbook or course could teach about the practice and conceptualization of assessment in SA. At the time, I was preparing for an interview. Amber asked challenging questions, supported me in finding the best answers, and then kept pushing me to think more critically about the field and what it needed. Advice Amber gave me during this conversation helped me land my current position.

When faced with a difficult decision in my professional life, I turned to Amber. She asked a question that should be easy, but isn’t. What is important to you? She listened and said things like, “What I’m hearing you say is…” and “If I put myself in your shoes…” Amber owns and speaks her truth in a way that is invigorating, thoughtful, and supportive. At one point in this same situation, she said to me, very honestly, “So what I’m hearing from you right now is that you are doubting yourself and your skills.” She called me out in a moment of self-doubt coming from a place of wanting me to be better and own my abilities and what I bring to the table.

Lean in

Amber’s self-assurance and kind honesty is a positive force driving myself, and likely many others, to own the greatness we bring to the table, to ask and answer the hard questions, to take time to share, teach, and talk, and to speak our truth.  She is, without a doubt, a #shero.

Who are your sheros? Why?

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