The Final Exam is your chance to get advice and insights from experts in the industry. For the July/August issue, Campus Rec spoke with Nathan A. Scott, the interim executive director of health and wellness at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
1. How did you get started in the industry?
My first position in campus rec was as a sport shop desk attendant in Larkins Hall at the Ohio State University. Shortly after, I transitioned to the welcome desk which allowed me to interact with the professional staff on a daily basis. The interactions and relationships I built as an undergrad ultimately led to an offer to work as a graduate assistant in the intramural sports office. Larkins Hall is where I fell in love with this profession. Like many others in our field, an on-campus job evolved into a career for which I could not be more grateful.
2. How would you go about describing campus recreation at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh (UWO)?
I would describe student recreation and wellness at UWO as a hidden gem. Most visitors are surprised by the outstanding facilities and resources we provide for our students. Our department is valued and supported by the administration and, most importantly, our student body. We have made significant strides toward offering programming and services that encompass aspects of wellness outside of physical fitness over the last year. Our most significant investments in well-being include the addition of two staff members, our assistant director of health promotion, and our sexual and interpersonal violence prevention coordinator. We also are participating in the Healthy Campus 2020 initiative sponsored by the American College
3. What has been one of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career?
Like most professionals, I have faced many challenges which pushed me to grow and develop. The challenge that stands out the most throughout my career is battling the infamous “imposter syndrome” many professionals feel in the midst of transition. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to receive opportunities including additional responsibility in a variety of forms. Oftentimes these opportunities for growth and increased responsibility required me to learn on the fly, while leading peers and co-workers through challenging times and staff transitions. The courage to take on the challenges ultimately has provided me with a well-rounded portfolio
4. What has been one of the biggest accomplishments of your career?
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked for outstanding supervisors and leaders who displayed a great deal of trust in me as a professional. In graduate school, I set a long-term career goal to work as a director in higher ed recreation. Ten years into my professional career I was able to make that goal a reality. Currently serving in the role as director of student recreation and wellness at UWO is truly a blessing for myself and my family.
5. What is one lesson you have learned that other recreation professionals might benefit from?
A few years back I read the book, “The Four Agreements.” It has proven to be very beneficial for me in my career. I keep the four principles from the book posted on my desk, referring to them frequently as a reminder to:
- Be impeccable with my word — speak with integrity and only say what I mean.
- Don’t take anything personally — nothing others do is because of you, it is a projection of their own reality.
- Don’t make assumptions — finding courage to ask questions and to express what I really want.
- Always do my best — knowing “my best” will change from moment to moment allows me to avoid self-judgement, self-abuse and regret.
6. What is one fun fact about yourself that others may not know?
I am the worst baseball fan ever. My three favorite teams are the Reds, Cardinals and Cubs. I fully understand why this is problematic and can explain my reasoning at another time if the opportunity presents itself.
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