Every year UNL’s Academic Advising Association (AAA) hosts a conference for other institutions across the state for a one-day conference and last week I attended my first. After attending the national NACADA conference in October I was excited to attend something on my home turf and with a much smaller crowd – not only for the comfort, but to see a conference on a smaller scale to see what I could bring to the conference next year. The conference is one day with just three breakout sessions after a keynote. This year’s conference theme was “Guiding the College Student’s Journey: Navigating Obstacles and Building Resiliency” and brought just over 200 professionals from across the state.
Our morning started off with a keynote from Dr. Laura Muñoz of Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi. Dr. Muñoz, the Joe B. Frantz Associate Professor of History, spoke of the Cultural Sustaining Pedagogy (CSP), how the history of race and gender shaped certain groups and their path to higher education. Following her keynote, we had our first of three sessions to choose from, and I excitedly and nervously hosted my session – “Powerful Partnerships: Leveraging Advising Identity to Serve Students.” My favorite part of the day, this session was presented by UNO’s (University of Nebraska-Omaha) executive team of their version of AAA. They offered insight of how their campus advising community works and comes together to build a stronger community amongst themselves, but also for their students. As a new(er) advisor at UNL and a new member to AAA, I found this session enlightening on how we can make subtle changes for a stronger organization that can move things forward on our campus and through our region and up to the national level.
The afternoon brought two more breakout sessions – and I chose to go to ones focused on LGBTQIA+ students and self-care. The session about LGBTQIA+ was educational and reminded me that there is always room for learning and growth to support all of our students, especially during this political climate. I vow to continue my learning and to be the ally I can be to my LGBTQIA+ students and provide a safe and welcoming space for them to be their authentic self without fear. I then ended my day by attending a session on self-care, which focused on the core ACPA/NASPA competencies. I was reminded that these competencies are not just things we learn in graduate school, but core practices we need to build upon as professionals.
By the end of the day, I was energized and excited to reflect on what I learned and to put things into practice – and to take a bigger role in next year’s conference. A goal I have discussed with my supervisor is presenting at a conference, but after attending NACADA I psyched myself out. Yet, the AAA Conference is the perfect size to get my presenting feet wet and I hope to do so next year. I also hope to move from a volunteer to a more influential role – hopefully on the committee. I would love to help in any capacity to pull off this event but would love it even more to be involved with the conference proposals. After writing up my conference report I learned a lot in a few hours out of the office, even with getting a second conference cold, I enjoyed myself and cannot wait for next year’s conference!