To Whom It May Concern: Over the past year I have had the pleasure of working with Crystal Norwood

as a fellow Assistant Resident Director with the Department of Residence Life at Loyola University Chicago and also as a fellow graduate student in Loyola’s Higher Education Student Affairs program. Crystal has been a role model, mentor, and friend who taught me a great deal about what it means to be a professional within this field; it is truly an honor to have this opportunity to speak to the passion and some of the many strengths that she will contribute to this profession. Crystal has a unique ability to connect the notions of soul and role to everything she has done here at Loyola. Within the Department of Residence Life, she handles her tasks and responsibilities with great integrity and is always willing to put forth the effort it takes to do her job effectively. Completing tasks and putting forth effort is common and expected of individuals within this profession. However, there is something that distinguishes Crystal from many of her colleagues. She has a genuine passion and care for this profession that is evident through her work and interactions with students, staff, and the greater community. She is able to operate outside of the politics and systematic limitations that exist in all institutions and express a sense of care in all her relationships, seeing and valuing others for who they are rather than just their job titles. Another one of Crystal’s valuable strengths is her desire to serve others. Regardless of the situation, whether work related or personal, Crystal continues to look for ways to use her gifts and talents for the betterment of those around her. She exemplified this through her role as an Alternative Break Immersion trip leader. Despite navigating a hectic schedule that includes academic responsibilities, job search, and her professional duties as an Assistant Resident Director, Crystal sacrificed her minimal free time and was fully committed to this trip. Even as a highly effective leader and role model, Crystal is constantly looking for ways to improve, develop, and learn how to better share her gifts with the world. Crystal also has the gifts of innovation and creativity. The Department of Residence Life has truly benefited from her willingness to challenge tradition and take the necessary steps to improve programming and processes. As a current member of the selection committee I can say with great confidence that her work last year, has set the foundation and framework for the selection committee this year. Crystal always prioritizes the health, safety, and development of the students and considers their perspective throughout her planning, programming, and other duties as a practitioner. She constantly comes up with unique ways to keep students engaged, assist in their development, and also help them to enjoy their college experience.

Crystal has been a great mentor and role model for me as a first year graduate student. As a newcomer to Chicago, Loyola, and Residence Life she has provided me with a great deal of guidance and support. The lack of diversity within this field can present many challenges to marginalized populations. As a fellow person of color, Crystal’s mentorship gives me the sense of community and solidarity that has helped in navigating the challenges of this field. Crystal has taught me to value the journey rather than the destination. She has exhibited the ability to plan for the future while also living in the moment. Crystal truly has left a legacy through the relationships that she established here at Loyola. Regardless, of her next steps, I can say with great confidence that Crystal is destined to do great things as a student affairs practitioner. This program is fortunate to have Crystal as a future alumni and this field is blessed to have her as a professional.

Willie Gore Assistant Resident Director Department of Residence Life Loyola University Chicago

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