Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Reinvent: ACPA National Convention 2014 (25 Before 25 - #3)

Just arriving at the conference. Running on about 28 hours without sleep at this point!
Not sure how I accomplished it (probably the coffee), but I made it to Indy and #ACPA14! :)

Considering I haven't shut up about it in the weeks leading up to and the days following my trip, you should probably know by now that I spent a few days in Indianapolis last week for the 2014 ACPA (College Student Educators International) National Convention. I got the opportunity to meet and interact with student affairs professionals from institutions across the country, attend educational sessions on a variety of interesting topics pertaining to the field, and engage in conversations involving topics that I may have thought about on my own time but never had the opportunity to explore further with others in my daily life.

The great thing about going to professional conferences in your field is that you're surrounded by people who just get it. Student Affairs and Higher Education is a unique field that not many people realize is a thing (I didn't even realize it until half way through my spring semester of senior year at Lasell!) making it a bit more difficult to discuss issues that surround the profession. I'm lucky enough to have a significant other who works with college students for his job, have a few close friends that are pursuing the field themselves, and my parents have heard me talking about it for so long that they understand as much as they can without actually going through it themselves. But trying to explain what you do to someone who didn't have a traditional college experience (or sometimes any college experience at all) or someone who wasn't involved at college past working with their academic advisor and going to class can prove to be quite challenging.

But being in the conference "bubble", you can just state who you are and what you do and people will know exactly what you mean. All of us are going through or have gone through similar things, and we can give each other support and advice from those shared experiences. It's nice knowing that no matter what I go through in my graduate or professional life, there are thousands of others out there that know exactly how I feel!

#BSUlife friends at the Tweet Up! :)
Left to right: Janine, myself, Brittany, and Ed!

The conference itself was an eye-opening and inspiring experience. I've been to both the Northeast Regional and National NACA conferences this past year, which are focused on Student Activities, but attending a conference that had a wide range of Student Affairs professionals in every area of expertise you could think of was a very welcome change of pace. I felt inspired (and, to be completely honest, a little bit intimidated) by all of the people I met and things I was learning, and it really made me consider where I want to be after I graduate. I'm still in love with the prospect of working in Student Activities or Orientation for my future career, but now I'm really thinking about getting some Athletics Academic Advising experience as well. Athletes are one of my favorite student populations (who never really have an advocate for them in the SA world), and would love to get to work with them in some way! It's a relief to get some direction in what I want to do, because lately I've been feeling a bit lost among all of the grad students who know exactly what they want out of their careers!

The presentation crew!
Left to right: 
Dr. Hyde, Dr. Kocet, myself, and Janine!

I also got the opportunity to present at the conference, which was an extremely awesome opportunity in itself. My professor, the Associate Professor of Residence Education at LSU, a fellow grad student, and I presented on the Ward v. Wilbanks case and were able to generate a good amount of conversation on the topic. It was such an honor to be asked to present at a national convention, and I hope to submit a presentation proposal for the 2015 Convention!

1. Cheese-stuffed burger from Scotty's Brewhouse! #drool | 2. Selfie with the Indianapolis skyline on an afternoon run!

I wasn't expecting it (sorry Indy natives), but Indianapolis is an awesome city! It's so clean, quiet, and genuinely beautiful there. The food's great, the people are lovely, and everything's near by! Our hotel was connected to the convention center by skywalk (which was nice on the off day that it rained), and though it took about 15 minutes to walk there, it was definitely great to not worry about bringing a coat or crossing the street! I definitely wouldn't mind visiting there again - there is so much that I'd still like to check out that I didn't get the chance to!

Attending the ACPA Convention was such a positive experience for me, and I feel so lucky to have been given that opportunity as a first year grad. I came into grad school expecting to go to my assistantship, go to class, do my school work, and that's it, but Bridgewater has provided me so many more opportunities than I would have thought possible. I don't think I would get this opportunity anywhere else, and I'm so happy I decided to attend BSU! I'm looking forward to attending the Convention again next year in Tampa. I'm hooked! :)

I made a quick video with some of my main takeaways from the conference. A lot of what I talk about echos what I've said in this post, but I thought it would be important to include in this post none the less! :)

*This crosses off #3 on my 25 before 25 list - Visit a new city. I'm attempting to reach 25 goals before I reach the age of 25! Want to see the whole list? Check it out here!

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