TACUSPA Conference

by Jenni Kraft

This past week I was able to attend the Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators conference (or TACUSPA for short). If you know me, you know that I love meeting people (WOO all the way) and that is one of the great things about conferences… meeting/networking J In addition to meeting new people, I was very much looking forward to catching up with a few friends & mentors. This was my 3rd TACUSPA conference so I was excited to even catch up with some of the people I had met at the conferences before!

It was great to arrive and be warmly greeted by one of my mentors right when I stepped into the hotel. I was looking forward to seeing him and catching up a bit. As I made my way up to the check in I was happy to meet 3 new faces to TACUSPA and get to know them. When we got to the check in table I was, again, pleased to see familiar faces! As you can tell, I was off to a great start :-)

The first program that I attended was the New Professionals Institute. It is always great to be reaffirmed by those in similar positions that you are on the right track! In addition, we also heard from seasoned professionals on how they got on their tracks to become Vice Presidents of Student Affairs at their colleges. For our lunch break we were able to sit down with one of the VPs and ask questions which provided an opportunity to hear about other new professionals’ struggles and successes. It was a very enlightening session that had us all wondering where we would be going next!

Of course walking out of that session I ran into my previous VP and was so excited to see her. After exchanging stories and catching up I made my way down to the hotel lobby where I checked in! So Cool! I know this is cheesy… but it felt nice to check into a hotel for work; especially when I got to my room with a king size bed all to myself! Very nice! I got all set up then headed downstairs to volunteer at the check in table. I HIGHLY recommend volunteering for check in if you get a chance at a conference! This was so fun because I got to meet everyone as they came in and they later remembered me. 

Now, the other great thing was that the check in was the “drum roll” leading up to the opening dinner. Regular opening sessions are great, but this one included our featured speaker: Dr. Vincent Tinto! You know the famous theorist on student retention! Who, by the way, asked us to call him Vince and constantly corrected us when we referred to him as Dr. Tinto (great spirit). We had an opportunity to ask questions and listen to advice from him at our “fireside chat.” It was so great to hear him speak so confidently about everything I had mostly read but with a personality. It’s so nice to know you can do research and not be a stuffed up old fuddy duddy! And of course like a eager Student Affairs pro, I caught up with him after for a photo. Check us out!

The next day I was eager to get to the breakout sessions and gather information. It was easy to pick the first session as I was really focussing on learning what other schools were doing for leadership programs. So naturally I attended Texas State Universitie’s presentation on Leadership Development. I took so many helpful notes from the presentaiton, but it was great to have an open discussion with the rest of the room about programs at the end! I can’t wait to implement some of these things.

The next session was actually another keynote speaker... but not just any keynote speaker: Dr. Vasti Torres! It was so neat to see her on the program as I remember doing research on Latina/o students and citing her work! She gave a great presentation on engaging Latina/o students. So great that I joined her for the next session for a round table discussion… where I, of course, asked for a photo J I asked her if she felt like a celebrity, and humbly said no. Check us out!

After lunch I attended a session called “Lean In to a Student Affairs Career” which was based off of Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” I knew this was going to be a great session and after hearing about everything the women presenters had to say, I was truly inspired!

Well that session was my last session for the conference, but I was so happy with each of them! That night I got to go out with 4 generations of my graduate program (Texas State SAHE program) and it was so much fun to catch up and hear about the updates to the program! The next morning was filled with more networking, a meeting with a committee I joined, and of course a closing awards ceremony! As I checked out of my room and said goodbye to my new and old friends I couldn’t help but think about the next TACUSPA and how I could play a bigger role in it J

Jenni with an “I”

Develop Students, Professional Development, Coordinate

Student Affairs - the First Years

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