First Time at NASPA: Being Re-inspired by Higher Education

by Megan Reilly

I'm attending my first NASPA annual conference this week. If you've ever attended NASPA, you can hear the exhaustion and the energy in that sentence. If you've ever attended NASPA, you know that there is more networking and learning and professional development (and more networking) packed into a few days than you probably do the rest of the year. And if you've ever been to NASPA, you probably know that I am bubbling over with encouragement and love for my colleagues in this field and the amazing work we get to do.    

This week (and it's only mid-conference as I'm writing this) I've had the chance to hear how I can improve my supervision style for my student employees, I've learned ways to better support student parents in my volunteer work for a local DC nonprofit, I've chatted with mid-career professionals who have selflessly given their time to give me words of wisdom, I've discussed important developments in the policy arena of higher ed during my poster presentation, I've reconnected with staff and friends from my study abroad program (Semester at Sea shoutout!) who I hadn't seen in almost five years, I've become even closer to my amazing friends and colleagues at GW and have been offered encouragement and professional development opportunities from THEIR networks as well, I've reestablished friendships with people from college who are also pursuing careers in this amazing field, and I've met a ton of professionals in this field who I know will continue to be contacts, resources, and friends in the field for years to come. I even got to meet all the fabulous people who run and write for the SA First Years blog at the leadership team's AMAZING session on work, play, and life as a new professional. Add all to that getting to enjoy the cultural and historical beauty of New Orleans, Louisiana... and I can easily say this has been one of the best weekends of 2015.

I'm not going to lie, I'm not always in love with higher education. We have a complicated relationship most of the time. Part of that is that some of my higher education experience has been in less than ideal environments and I've had to make trade-offs, as we all must, for other priorities in my life.  So what NASPA has done for me this week that I didn't expect is not only revitalize my love for higher education, but truly affirm (for what I think is the first time) that I am definitely in the right place. For the 7800 attendees at NASPA this week, this is a professional home and I could not be happier to be part of it.

Follow me on Twitter and hear more about the conference @MReilly90.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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