Ryan Travia

Upon completing my graduate degree in educational administration, I found myself on the job market.  Interested in pursuing a career in student affairs administration, I focused my search mostly on entry-level positions in residential life, which is the trend for most Higher Education Administration Master’s graduates.  Throughout graduate school at Boston College, I had worked with the Office of Alcohol & Drug Education and served as a judicial hearing officer – two areas of particular interest to me – so I also applied to as many judicial affairs positions as I could find, since the Alcohol & Other Drug (AOD) Professional postings were few and far between.

I was selected as a final candidate for a student/judicial affairs position at a Boston-area college.  This seemed to be the ideal position for me.  I would be responsible for coordinating the student conduct system for the college, while providing support for the Student Affairs Division.  In addition to a modest salary, the job provided a fully furnished apartment and a meal plan, in exchange for on-call responsibilities.  I was enthralled by the idea of working at the college and living in Boston, and the apartment would have been enormously helpful financially to me and my wife (we were planning to be married and she was just starting graduate school).  Needless to say, I was devastated when I received news that the position had been offered to another candidate.  Without many other interviews set-up, I was at a loss for what the future had in store for me.  I put my faith in God, determined not to “settle” for just any position.  What came next changed my life forever.

I received a call from Dartmouth College regarding my application for their Coordinator of Alcohol & Other Drug Education Programs.  At first, I thought it was a joke.  To my mind, this was totally a “reach” application.  Despite my qualifications, I felt woefully inexperienced compared to the many substance abuse prevention specialists I knew would apply.  But after surviving a grueling interview process, I got the job.  The job allowed me to pursue my passions for teaching, substance abuse prevention, policy development, and peer education, and ultimately led me to my current position here at Harvard.

I know it sounds cliche, but good things come to those who wait.  As disappointed as I was to not land the job, I relied on my faith to guide me through a difficult process.  I believe that everything happens for a reason, even if sometimes, we don't know what those reasons are.  This experience changed the direction of my life, which ultimately allowed me to follow my heart and embrace my true vocation, doing what I know I have been called to do in life.

Ryan Travia's rejection letter