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Preparing to get blown away in the Windy City!: Dan Stypa

March 3, 2010

With my first NASPA annual conference soon approaching, I’m getting prepared to be blown away in the Windy City!  Having looked at the sessions being offered, I am excited about attending so many different presentations – especially those dealing with my primary research interests of retention, engagement, and sophomore students.

Persistence Pals: Addressing Retention One Student At a Time looks as though it will be a very intriguing session about helping student s feel connected on their campus.  I have talked with a mentor of mine here at UT and we are excited to see if the program implemented at this school will be able to help address issues of retention here at UT.  “What about us?” : Engaging Second-year Students is another session I am excited to attend!  Having completed research about sophomores here at UT, I am eager to learn about how another large school is engaging sophomores.  The Director of the Student Success Center is excited for me to bring back materials from this session to enhance our new SYE program.  Long Term Outcomes of a Residential Sophomore Year Program is being led by my mentor’s previous supervisor.  Here at UT, our new sophomore programs have only been around for 1 year.  I have developed questions for this presentation that will help better inform how we can assess our program and move forward to meet the needs of our sophomores. 

These three sessions are just a few that I have prepared myself to attend.  What Graduate School Didn’t Teach You: For New Staff and Students is a session that I’m excited to attend!  Although it’s not directly related to my research interests, as a graduate student who will be entering the student affairs workforce in a few short months, this session seems very exciting.  Finally, time for a shameless plug, I’ve been getting ready to present my own session titled Effective Strategies for Promoting Engagement Among “sophomores.” I’m really excited to present original research findings and hopefully share information that can be valuable to others.

Preparing for these sessions – and others – is just part of getting ready for the annual conference.  I’m also preparing to reconnect with mentors, peers, and former supervisors who are all planning to attend the conference.  Ranging from a friend of mine at Miami University who will be attending who is about to graduate with her master’s degree to a close friend and mentor who is now the VP of Student Affairs at Eastern Oregon University, I am making sure that I take advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with everyone I can.  At the same time, I am planning to attend socials sponsored by Bowling Green State University (my alma mater), the SAPAA Knowledge Committee I serve on, LeaderShape, and more.  Getting myself ready and prepared for these events is exciting because while I’ll be able to mingle with those I know, I will be able to build my network and meet and interact with those that I do not know.  I’m excited to be able to meet as many folks as possible during the entire conference.

While preparing for the sessions and socials has been important, a major focus of my preparation has been on getting all set for The Placement Exchange!  I’ll be graduating in May and ready to start the next chapter of my student affairs experience.  I have been busy arranging interviews and preparing myself to be the best that I can be.  Between the color coded spreadsheets, seemingly hundreds of file folders, and learning all about the different institutions I’ll be interviewing with, getting ready for my interviews has been a big process.  Although I’m sure the nerves will set in as I get closer to the interviews, right now I’m nothing but excited as I get ready to meet with prospective future employers!

It’s hard to believe that NASPA 2010 is right around the corner!  It seems like it was just yesterday that I was starting grad school and now I’m preparing myself to become the best professional I can be!  Get ready Windy City…I’ll be taking you by storm!

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