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I’m Ready to “Be The Movement.”: Dan Stypa

March 17, 2010

Looking back on my first NASPA Annual Conference experience, I couldn’t be happier with how the conference went for me.  Heading into the conference, I was expecting for it to be a good professional development opportunity but had no idea how much it would have impacted me like it has.  The sessions that I attended throughout the conference – many of them about sophomores since that’s my main research interest – have enabled me to come back to my campus with great ideas to help improve the student experience at my institution.  One of the goals that I had was to connect with professionals to build my network of colleagues across the country.  Boy oh boy, that was sure achieved!  I got to meet preminent researchers that I hear about in class all the time and quote in my papers, met other professionals with similar research interests, and reconnected with folks from my undergrad, Bowling Green State University.

Volunteering was a good experience for me.  Most of my time volunteering was spent educating people about signing up for Twitter and tweeting about their experience.  Working with students everyday, I’m used to working with people who know all about Twitter and how to utilize the program.  It was really fun talking with seasoned professionals and others who are not as familiar with Twitter and all the benefits one can experience from signing up and following different accounts.  It made me realize that something that seems so natural and second nature to me isn’t the case for everyone.  As I start my first professional position in the coming months, I’ve learned through my volunteering at the conference that I have to take the time to understand everyone’s individual experience and not assume that everyone knows what I know.  It was cool seeing people get excited about Twitter and tweeting after having talked to them about it.

I’ve always heard great things, but after this conference I’m fully confident that NASPA is a priemere organization!  I’ve attended other conferences in the past and there was something about NASPA that just felt right for me.  The sessions were great, the colleagues were amazing, and the experience was unforgettable.  It was clear to see that NASPA is committed to the growth of professionals.  Through this growth, we all will be better able to serve our students and institutions.  The great diversity of expertise and backgrounds in NASPA is great – learning from folks from all walks of life have made me excited to attend NASPA every year!  The 2010 Conference Committee did an amazing job putting together such a great experience.

Through all of this, my commitment to field has been heightened.  Leaving the conference (about which I was very sad to do!) I was energized to come back to UT in order to share ideas and my experiences with other professionals.  While sitting in the different sessions and listening to different speakers, I kept thinking about ways to apply what the speakers were saying to the students I get to work with on a daily basis.  I was happy to find myself making direct connections between workshop content to everyday practice at UT.  Finally, it was really inspiring to see so many people from all types of schools from all over the country come together in one place for a few days to help become better resources for our students.  Sometimes it feels like as student affairs professionals we are fighting battles alone, but it has been great to see so many folks are out there doing the same thing.

Having attended my first (of many!) NASPA Annual Conference, I can’t wait to “Be the Movement”!

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