“Helping others & Leading by Example.” The People Who Inspire Series: Norris Chase
The People Who Inspire series highlights individuals from a variety of backgrounds and occupations who are seeking to impact the lives of others in a positive way. Through Truth-Telling: the honest sharing of their own experiences, they teach us a little about themselves, hopefully enabling us to be able to learn a little about ourselves through their stories.
Today’s Post features Norris Chase, Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Services at Bradley University.
Could you tell us a little about your background and what led you to your current work?
I was born and raised on the east side of Detroit, Michigan where I attended Finney High graduating back in 2005. Prior to going on a college tour at Oakland University, I had no plans on attending higher education, nor did I have a plan to finance my education.
Coming from a blue-collar upbringing, college seemed well out of my economic reach. I later learned that this was not the case. Following graduating from Finney, I had the wonderful opportunity to study business management at Oakland University.
Once I arrived at Finney, I had very little guidance as far as what path I wanted to pursue academically. Arriving to Oakland directly out of Detroit, I had no clue where to start in college socially. In other words, I was clueless on both fronts.
During my freshman year, I immediately began working for the Recreation Center as a sports official; later I volunteered as an event coordinator for Residential Hall council, which then led me to become a Peer Mentor for the Center of Multicultural Initiatives at the close of my first year.
My involvement seemed to catapult me into a different level personally. These experiences challenged me to work to become a better student and individual as a freshman. However, they did not disable my continual struggle to adjust to the personal freedoms of college entering sophomore year. My sophomore year was by far the lowest I have been in life academically, mentally, and emotionally.
But something great happened just as I felt like I was headed down a very slippery road; an opportunity was given to me to serve as a peer mentor for the Project Upward Bound Program. This was a great catalyst that compelled me on a more positive and perennial pathway. I was the role model students were looking up to.
Following that opportunity, my experiences with Student Affairs professionals (before I actually knew what that meant) were developmental in every way. Many individuals helped guide me to where I am now; Mr. Omar Brown-El, Mr. Reginald McCloud, Mrs. Michelle Southward, Ms. Nicole Lucio, Mr. Brandon Bernier, Mr. Jonathan Parks, and lastly, Mr. Glenn McIntosh.
All of those individuals were student affairs professionals. Not to mention my awesome core group of friends who challenged me and held me accountable; Latonia Garrett, J. Reese, Naibon Moore, Yakela Roberson, and Jasmine Rudolph.
I wanted to help other students develop as I had under the guidance of someone who was trained within student affairs. I went on to graduate from OU because of my support systems. I then went traveled south to Clemson, South Carolina, where I completed my Masters degree in Counselor Education with a focus in Student Affairs where I also worked as a Graduate Hall Director for University Housing for two years.
Oakland University provided me the opportunity to learn from and receive mentorship from Student Affairs professionals who showed me the way and took time to develop me. These experiences helped me realize that my real passions lie within working directly with students for their empowerment and development. Oakland University was also where I figured out my love for Student Affairs.
Do you have any other issues that you’re interested in working on or working with others in terms of social justice/equity?
Personally, one issue that I am very interested in working on or with someone on is the issue of diversity in higher education, as well as college awareness and access for minority students.
From my own experience, I understand, firsthand the value and significance of obtaining an education. I would love the chance to work with non-profit organizations in urban communities to for the creation of a college preparation program.
I believe that there is so much value in creating opportunities for students who otherwise may never be aware of these possibilities.
What are the parts of your work that you find most enjoyable?
As I mentioned before, I love working with, learning from, and developing college students. I am currently working at Bradley University as the Assistant Director of Multicultural Student Services and I absolutely love it. I love every part of my job.
What aspects do you find challenging?
As a fairly new professional, I have found navigating campus politics is something that I am struggling a bit with. Every person employed at the institution should have the student’s best interest at hand, AND understand that if we all work together, we could be more successful.
What/Who Inspires you?
Honestly, I would like to say that I am easily inspired. The people who inspire me are my loved ones and role models; family (including close friends), mentors, and great people I have met along m journey so far.
My role models are largely individuals who had a huge impact on the civil rights movement (MLK and Malcolm X to be more specific) and positive black male figures that have lived their lives for individuals like myself to follow and mold in my own way.
Some of the “what” that inspires me include a plethora things; my family and close friends; my role models and their successes; my socio-economic status growing up; the current state of my hometown; the potential of our youth; my responsibility to help develop the youth for the future; helping others; leading by example for my little brother; my faith; making my mother proud; and lastly, and probably less glorious, any negative stereotypes that African-American males have faced historically and currently.
What have been the Keys to your success so far?
I wouldn’t really say that I have keys to success just yet. However, some of the things that have enabled me to achieve my current position in life include setting goals, asking for help (from people who have similar experiences), having faith (believing in a higher power), building genuine long-lasting relationships, and lastly, being humble enough to admit fault and work to become better.
Is there anything Else you’d like to add?
I think the most important piece I’d like to add is how grateful I am to have the chance to share my story. By no means have I made it this far by myself. With the help of God, my close family and friends, and my sometimes painful faith in my abilities, I believe I have so much more to learn and so much farther to go. Thank you again for this opportunity.
Peace and Love,
If you know any People Who Inspire that you would like to be featured in the series, email Relando at Relando@relandothompkins.com, or just fill out the contact form here.
Grace & Peace,
From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW