Post-NODAC 2013 Thoughts (Part III)

by Luis H. Garay

This week’s post ends my three part blog series on my experience at my first national conference.

At the time of writing this post it has been four days since I’ve been back from NODAC 2013. NODAC is the conference for the Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education. This year it was in San Antonio, Texas and it was my first year in attendance. Two words describe how I am feeling right now: tired and invigorated.

To be honest, I’m not surprised that I am still tired. As an introvert (although I have some friends who say I’m an extrovert), I tend to feel very drained following a large group gathering with lots of interactions with people. I do consider myself a people person, someone who likes to talk to new people and meet as many different people as possible, and that requires a lot of energy for me. I slept a glorious ten hours Friday night but it is Sunday evening and I am finding myself fighting to stay awake. Thursday was my first full day back from NODAC. The day consisted of two classes and work hours. It was really nice being welcomed back by coworkers and cohort mates. It took a while to get back into the swing of things and almost shift mindsets. I had to put my brain (and self) back in “work mode”. On more than one occasion, I found myself apologizing for seeming out of it.

I feel invigorated following the conference due to the reaffirmation I received. NODAC reaffirmed the spot I have in my student affairs heart for Orientation. As I have said to myself and at least in one post for this blog, the world of Orientation has a way of calling me back. I thought I had left that world when I left college but following my summer NODA internship and then this conference, I was wrong. Attending various educational sessions, meeting NODA graduate students (shout out to #NODAGrad friends!), and being present for various speeches reaffirmed the importance of the work and the possibilities of the work that is Orientation.

Additionally, I really like that the Association is focusing on transition and retention. This focus shone a new light for me into my graduate assistantship work. Even though I felt like I was one of the few graduate students whose graduate assistantship was not in Orientation, I realized that my GA was a part of the transition (the “T”) and retention (the “R”) of orientation, retention, and transition (“OTR”). Because of the focus on the “T” and “R”, I was able to attend sessions that focused on transition and retention. Plus, I was able to equally expand my knowledge about orientation but also use the information to enhance my GA work.

What’s the next step? For one, not losing all the valuable information and insights gained from the conference. When I first was on the student affairs social media scene, I remember reading a blog post or was engaged in a twitter conversation that advised to put forth into action all what one learns at a conference. This is why starting tomorrow, I am going to go back through my notes and engage myself in what I have learned. I was exposed to so many ideas, thoughts, and books (hello Amazon wish list!) that I must put them into action. One of the reasons I went to NODAC 2013 was to stay as up-to-date as I could on the OTR field. If I just ignore or store away in a file my notes and all that I have learned I am doing myself a great disservice.

What typically happens to you post a conference? What have you found to best help you in taking all that you have learned at a conference and put it into action? Tweet me your thoughts at @LuisHGaray

Student Affairs - the First Years

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