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My Overwhelming NASPA Experience: Kaymesia Coss

March 24, 2010

Before I arrived in Chicago for the conference I spoke with several of my mentors about their NASPA Annual conference experiences. Each of them expressed to me that it would be overwhelming and that I needed to remember to pace myself. I remember being very confused about their advice and not understanding if overwhelming would be a good or bad thing, but I was definitely about to find out!

I arrived in Chicago Friday afternoon and immediately began making connections with other Level Two recipients. My roommate Leezel Ramos and Samiyyah Ali were the first fellows I met and we quickly became the three amigos. Together we assisted with The Placement Exchange (TPE) where we witnessed the largest job placement production known to man…well at least that is what it felt like! It was not the size of TPE that impressed me the most (although the stats were pretty impressive) it was the execution of the well organized operation. From the layout of the employer floor plan to the mail boxes of the potential employers, everything was perfect and very well thought out. Kudos to an excellent planning staff! You all did your thing!! =)

Next on the agenda was the NUFP Pre-Conference which was absolutely amazing!!! I was able to meet so many fellows that were outgoing, intelligent, hilarious, and extremely passionate about the field of student affairs. What I appreciated most about the selection of fellows was diversity. There were so many students from different geographic regions, sexual orientations, ethnicities and more. There was a student from every walk of life which made each session more fulfilling. My top two favorite sessions were Power and Privilege and the StrengthsQuest Luncheon. In the Power and Privilege session we were able to have a heated discussion on different stereotypes given to minority groups and how those labels made us feel. We spent so much time “sharing” we almost missed lunch! I am a huge fan of StrengthsQuest so when I received a code from Nathan Victoria I was extremely excited! The facilitator presented our results in a way that was both engaging and informing. He concluded the session by letting us come to the realization that it was not a coincidence we all had similar strengths, but the strengths we shared would make us all phenomenal student affairs practitioners! If anyone was uncertain of their future success in the field they left the session knowing they had what it takes to fulfill the conference theme of being the movement.

The NUFP Pre-Conference ended Sunday evening and we went straight into the opening session. This is when the overwhelming feelings kicked in. As we made our way back to the Sheraton I began to realize that the small conference I was previously involved in was not the actual NASPA conference. I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of people who seemingly appeared over night and had taken over the hotel. There were so many sessions and so many activities that the advice of pace yourself finally started to make sense. It took almost an entire day for me to find my place in the masses and once I did I took full advantage of all the opportunities afforded to me. I attended sessions, Knowledge Community business meetings, and simply sat in the lounge and sparked conversations with strangers. It was amazing!

Words cannot express my gratitude for receiving the Sodexo Level Two Stipend. Without the scholarship I would not have been able to attend the conference. My time in Chicago was the longest I had ever been away from Texas and I am very grateful for the experience. This conference provided me the opportunity to enhance my networking skills, build life-long connections with fellows and professionals, and attend thought provoking sessions that will contribute to my budding career in student affairs. I will forever cherish my experiences. I cannot wait to become more involved with NASPA and I look forward to many overwhelming conferences to come. I believe my mentor said it best…I am officially a NUFP Nerd!

You want me to escort a LEGACY!?!

This year’s conference theme was Live the Legacy, Be the Movement and I was fortunate enough to become part of a legacy. Mike Segawa, NASPA President, really put his heart and soul into making sure NASPA attendees understood the conference theme.

The idea of letting fellows escort a legacy during the opening session was noteworthy not just because I got to assist (but it helpedJ), but because it shed light on our past which helps us to have a clearer future. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in a room with the master minds who have paved the way in the field of student affairs. They were all very friendly and eager to share their stories as well as to hear ours. My favorite part of the entire experience was watching each of them humbly grace the stage. As I stood behind the curtain and watched their facial expressions as Mr. Segawa read their many accomplishments each of them seemed to be in shock of their own successes. Instead of being smug or in awe of themselves they were full of gratitude, I was astonished. It was refreshing to see such modesty from people who wrote the book on leadership. Thank you NASPA for allowing me to meet some remarkable people and for my two second claim to fame.

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