BEING Bold Theory to Practice

by Lauren Kaplan
I had the privilege of attending the NASPA 2013 Conference here in Orlando, Florida on behalf of Valencia College. This was my second NASPA conference. Going into this conference I had the mindset that I finally felt at peace with my position, life, and ability to navigate this conference without feeling the pressure.
As soon as I walked into the convention center, I felt the energy and if you are involved in Student Affairs, you know the ‘energy’ I am writing about. I entered the opening session and was really moved by the main speaker, Dustin Black.  Dustin is an American screenwriter, director, film and television producer, and LGBT rights activist, best known for writing the screenplay, ‘Milk,’ telling the life-story of the first openly gay elected public leader, Harvey Milk (1930-1978), a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (1978). He was assassinated by Dan White, another San Francisco Supervisor who had recently resigned, but wanted his job back. I was very moved by Dustin Black’s speech on marriage equality and how he continues to fight the fight for equal rights for all. I had the opportunity to meet him at the social following the opening session. It was certainly a great highlight of the night!

I spent a full two days at NASPA, engrossing myself in sessions that would both benefit my current professional position and personally. I attended sessions on topics such as ethical decision-making, achieving your doctorate as a woman, creating student surveys, understanding technology/branding, working with transfer students inside a living learning community, and becoming a dean of students. From all of the sessions mentioned, I learned considerably, and naturally, I plan on using my new found knowledge in my current position. 

In between going to sessions, I was also able to reconnect and meet colleagues from across the country. I felt surprised about how many people I was able to reconnect with at NASPA. I guess you don’t realize how small the Student Affairs world is until you attend a conference. I am very glad that I was able to connect with a mentor of mine for who is responsible for the position I have now. She has now moved on to another institution, doing fantastic things and I couldn’t be more proud of her. 

This year, I also had the privilege of helping out at the NASPA Community Fair with the NASPA Student Leadership Knowledge Community. They are a great group of folks who have the same passion for leadership as I do and naturally, after all our emails and web-chats, it was great to finally meet them all in person!

What I am taking away from this conference is how important it is to make time to stay connected to our field. Not just with the research or hot button issues, but with the people. After all, it is the many good and generous people in our field that makes serving others all worthwhile.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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