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Time to be the Movement: John Gradel

March 22, 2010

Attending my first NASPA Conference was a blast!  I was able to meet a lot of different people in only a few short days.  I also had the chance of seeing the wonderful city of Chicago!

The SALT pre-conference was great because I was able to meet a lot of different undergraduates from across the United States who were interested in going to Student Affairs.  Not only did we hear from exceptional panels of people already in the field giving us advice, but also we learned about different theories on diversity and leadership.  The highlight of the pre-conference was the session on StrengthsQuest where we learned about our strengths and how to utilize and improve upon them!

The conference itself was an awesome learning experience.  From the sessions to the keynote speakers, all of it was great.  I fortunate enough to even meet Condoleezza Rice.  I got a photo with her and even shook her hand!  That was an amazing start to the next few days.  I went to several different sessions and by doing so accomplished one of my conference goals!  I went a session on Planning Your Future Career Moves in Student Affairs.  This was an awesome panel of seasoned professionals in the field.  They gave some great advice for how to navigate your career to keep continuing to advance and grow in the field.  I also attended an awesome session on how to create a Global Ambassadors Program.  I am interested in working in Education Abroad/International Education so this is an awesome program I would love to bring to campus.  It is a great way to create partnerships with the community.  Those were just some of the awesome sessions I was able to attend.

I had the incredible experience of attending the NASPA Community Fair to learn about the knowledge communities.  I learned these were groups of people who meet annually who have the same types of interests in higher education.  Anywhere from New Professionals and New Graduates to International Education.  What a great way to stay current with the latest happening in your field or maybe even just an area of interest.  I plan to stay involved with these!

Volunteering at NASPA was a great experience.  I served as a social-media tech signing conference attendees up for Twitter.  All through the conference NASPAtweets was keeping us informed of all the awesome things going on at the conference and even last minute changes.  It was a great way to stay in the “know!”  Being able to interview conference attendees with flip-cameras was another great volunteer experience.  I was able to interview with entry-level student affairs professionals all the way to Vice Presidents in the field.  It was awesome to hear their stories of how long they had become involved with NASPA and why they still continue to come year after year.  Listening to these folks talk about Student Affairs has reaffirmed my commitment to go into this rewarding field.  I hope to see these inspiring stories on the NASPA website!

Hearing all of those stories have inspired me to want to come back to NASPA year after year.  The people who attend this conference each year are truly a huge family.  Whenever I turned you saw people hugging who may have not seen each other until previous NASPA Annual Conference.  The professional development offered at this conference is awesome.  NASPA is a wonderful organization to be apart of and I plan to continue to be involved.  I am thankful for this wonderful experience to have attended and met wonderful people who I shall keep in touch with from here on out!  Now it is my turn to “be the movement” to create my own legacy in the field!

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