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The Golden Key: Unlocking the Potential of my First NASPA Conference: Dan Stypa

February 5, 2010

My name is Dan Stypa and I am a 2nd year Masters student in the College Student Personnel program at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  While here at UT, my assistantship is with University Housing.  Last year I was an Assistant Hall Director in an all male freshman hall and this year, I am the Programming & Advising Graduate Assistant and work with the RHA and leadership development programs.  While working with housing, I have completed internships at UT with the Parents Association, Judicial Affairs, the Student Success Center, and Dance Marathon.  I’ve really gotten a lot from my UT experience and am excited to continue to make a difference in the lives of students long after my time here at UT is complete.

My interest in student affairs began early in my undergrad career at Bowling Green State University.  I started off as an education major but quickly realized that I wasn’t meant to be in a high school classroom.  I got involved early in my undergrad experience and wanted to do that the rest of my life.  Some amazing mentors along the way told me about this field called student affairs and I’ve been hooked ever since!

I am really excited to be attending NASPA for the first time this March!  Most of my professional mentors here at UT are active members of NASPA and have encouraged me all along to attend the conference if I could.  With the support of this scholarship, I’m eager to get to the Windy City and learn from professionals from all over the country!  By attending this conference, a primary goal of mine is to learn about successful programs at all types of institutions.  All of my experience is at large public universities; at NASPA, I want to learn more about other types of colleges and universities so that I can be well educated about all aspects of students affairs at different types of schools.  Additionally, I hope to be able to bring back ideas from other schools to UT.  Although I only have a few short months left at UT, I’m excited to share with colleagues what I’ve learned so that I can do my part to make UT a little better than when I arrived.

While at NASPA, I can’t wait to meet people from all over the country and build my professional network.  So many times I’ve heard my mentors talk about the people they’ve met at conferences and still keep in touch with.  Between the other students who have received this award and the hundreds of others at the conference, a goal of mine is to meet as many people as possible so that as I move along in the field, I will have individuals I can contact for support, guidance, and to bounce ideas off of.

My primary passions lie in housing and residence life, leadership development, academic enhancment programs, and organizational development.  I am excited to attend sessions focusing on these areas so that I can further develop my knowledge in these areas.  I’ve served as a reviewer for the Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs award committee and had the privledge of reading about many exciting programs happening all over the country.  I intend to attend many of the sessions that have to deal with how functional areas and divisions across the campus community can partner and work together.  With shrinking resources and many schools tightening their belts, I think it will be imperative to learn all that I can so that when I take my first professional position, I will be able to work on a team that is ready to move forward and embrace change.

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