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To the Windy City!: John Gradel

February 9, 2010

As I traveled onto the campus of SUNY Fredonia as an entering freshman, I never knew where I wound end up in four years.  From orientation all the way to commencement I found myself this past four years to be in the middle of a huge, inspiring network of support.  Never could I have been able to excel as much as I did without the support from a campus whose students affairs staff strives at making sure college students succeed.

Allow me to introduce myself… my name is John and I’m a senior social studies adolescence education major who plans to attend a graduate program in higher education.  During the past four years of my college journey I have been able to experience several different aspects student affairs.  From starting out as a Resident Assistant, to assisting in the creation of a late night program series all the way to being an orientation leader I have seen several aspects of the student affairs world.  In each of the several roles I held I was able to see how each program helped students succeed.  This thus inspired me to want to pursue a career in student affairs. One of my most exciting roles was serving as our programming boards president for two years in a row.  During this time I assisted in planning over 120 events.  We were able to create a second welcome week and revive our spring concert into an attraction for all students.  These achievements I attribute to my mentors in the field who helped me get to where I am today.  Thus I am very excited to be able to attend this year’s NASPA conference to meet other professionals in the field who have inspired me to want to work with college students.

The theme of this year’s conference: Live the Legacy Be the Movement – reminds me of this quote by John Allston, “The only thing you take with you when you’re gone is what you leave behind.”  I have firmly believed in trying to change whatever I encounter to make it better.  I have been able to accomplish this several times as an undergraduate.  I was able to increase the number and quality of our activities on our programming board.  I assisted in the creation of a late night program to provide alternatives for students to do on the weekends.  In an internship I co-taught a freshman seminar where we helped liberal arts students choose a major.  In the process we gave them the tools of the trade and innovative ways to think about what they would like to major in.  To be able to leave a legacy behind means to foster a change in the world today.  As I enter into the world to learn more in-depth about the student affairs profession, I hope to be the movement to contribute to the legacy in this prestigious field.

While attending the conference I hope to engage in many activities.  Some educational sessions I would like to attend include the “Student Affairs Leaders of Tomorrow: Undergraduate Pre-Conference” to learn more in-depth about what the field of student affairs has to offer.  I plan on attending the “Leadership StrengthsQuest” session because as an intern for a freshman seminar class we utilized this amazing tool.  I’m interested to see what the creators have to say regarding this test that seeks to find your top strengths. While attending educational sessions I hope to volunteer during the conference and at the placement exchange.  Some of my goals include meeting professionals in the field and being able to apply what I learn in the educational sessions to my future graduate schoolwork and beyond.  I can’t wait to go to the windy city!

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