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Finding My Community: Jacob Goldstein

April 13, 2010

Hi everyone!

First off, I want to say that it was great meeting many of you at the conference! It’s always nice to meet the individual behind the email or blog post 🙂 As I reflect on my experience at the conference, two weeks after the conclusion of the event, I’m increasingly realizing what an amazing opportunity it represented. I’ll be the first to admit that I had no idea that NASPA existed until a few months ago – and now I have attended the organization’s national conference! I’m very fortunate to have a wonderful mentor who introduced me to NASPA and the possibility of turning the work I’m doing at Occidental College into a career.

I traveled to Chicago without assumptions or expectations; I simply wanted to meet other students interested in Student Affairs, make connections with professionals, and most of all, learn everything I could about NASPA and Student Affairs overall. The conference proved to be an eye-opening, overwhelming, and ultimately exciting experience. I was not prepared for 12+ hours of lectures, receptions and networking events in a single day, trying to learn all the NASPA lingo, or hearing the phrase “Learning Outcomes” on an hourly basis! But once I got over the “culture shock,” so to speak, I came to appreciate the conference’s invaluable opportunities for professional development. The undergraduate pre-conference provided me with first-hand information on graduate school and the realities of the field, and I enjoyed the conference sessions, in particular the sessions on developing social justice allies and on the problematic nature of “colorblind” policies. The exceptional lineup of guest speakers, particularly Condolezza Rice (who knew she had such a great sense of humor?), Jean Twenge, and Andrew Jolivette, provided another highlight. And while I was somewhat dubious of volunteering as Social Media Tech, the experience ultimately allowed me to meet other undergrads and student affairs professionals, as well as improve my (admittedly meager) twitter skills. In short, I left Chicago with new friends and professional contacts, exciting programming ideas, and a far greater understanding of the diverse possibilities within Student Affairs.

The highlight of the conference for me was getting involved with the Men and Masculinities Knowledge Community. I met the co-chairs of the KC at networking event during the undergraduate pre-conference. Masculinities studies is my area of academic interest, and I immediately connected with the leadership team. Apparently I made a very good impression, because the next day they asked me to write two articles for their April newsletter, a personal reflection on the conference and a summary of the “Masculinities Week” I organized at Occidental. I sent in the articles last week, and it goes without saying that I’m honored by the opportunity to contribute to their newsletter!

In conclusion, I returned to Occidental with a sense of having fit into the NASPA community. It was incredibly gratifying to be surrounded by people who both understood and appreciated the work I am doing here at Oxy, and in many cases were making similar strides on their own campuses. I have also never seen a community where people are so genuinely excited by the sociology major; the age old question “so what are you going to do with that?” never once came up! The conference came at a critical period in my life. As a dedicated student leader, I am eager to ensure that my efforts in academics and activism will not end upon graduation. I now see NASPA as an outlet for transforming my passion for social justice into a career, and I hope that the 2010 Annual Conference will not be my last.

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