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Reflections from Chicago: Kathryn Hogan

April 27, 2010

It’s hard to believe that only a week ago, I was in Chicago, preparing to leave the Windy City after a week spent on Magnificent Mile, darting between the Marriott, Sheraton, and Gleacher Center. I’ve enjoyed deep-dish pizza at two Chicago locations, had my photo taken with the giant bean called “Cloud Gate” at Millennium Park, and seen the Water Tower that lasted through the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The NASPA 2010 experience seemed to come and go at a fast pace – almost too quickly! I am now reflecting on my time spent in Chicago. To do this, I am taking excerpts from my blogs, and will be commenting on my original thoughts.

‘The spread of ideas from one institution to another is a beneficial and necessary flow, and I hope that I can positively impact my campus by bringing new perspectives gained at the conference to Florida State.”

A session that I attended was about transforming our residence halls to be student-focused. Various methods were discussed, but one of the most important aspects brought up was making sure that intentional lounge and common areas are created for students to gather. This will encourage casual dialogue and friendships to form, simply from placing a lounge area in a highly traveled area of the hall. I have already started to sit in the lounge areas in my buildings at Florida State University, in an effort to encourage students to utilize the space more effectively.

“I would like to attend sessions that will provide me with a well-rounded, balanced view of the conference. Although my interests are concentrated in particular categories, I hope to reach outside of those interests and explore other areas and topics.”

One of my conference goals was to attend programs that were outside of my typical interest areas. One session that I attended was about assessment and using EBI surveys at two different institutions. Although I am not the decision-maker regarding assessment practices at FSU, examining the implications of surveying students and their responses is still an applicable part of how I serve students daily.

“A piece of advice that I would give anyone who is about to attend a conference is VOLUNTEER! The people that you meet while volunteering are great resources and could even be potential mentors someday!”

One of the most rewarding parts of the conference was volunteering! I was able to use a flip camera and record NASPA participants responding to questions about their experiences at the Annual Conference. While doing this, I spoke with two women, both VPSAs, from two institutions very different from my own experiences. One woman gave me a valuable piece of advice, “never say ‘never,’ because as soon as you do, you’ll end up doing exactly what you said you’d never do.” She said she would never enter into a specific sphere of student affairs, but the next year was transitioning to that very area. Keeping an open mind is important, and we must remember not to put barriers up against opportunities that could change our lives.

The NASPA 2010 Annual Conference could be described as a meeting of the minds. The experience I have been given through Golden Key International Honor Society is an opportunity to learn and expand my knowledge foundation, and I am extremely grateful. The NASPA organization is a strong network of professionals from entry-level to vice presidents. While at the conference, I saw a strong commitment to educating others and our students. One of the major topics being discussed now is the potential merge between NASPA and ACPA, and to better educate myself I attended the discussion about the future of the two organizations. Whether these two groups of outstanding student affairs professionals merge or remain separate, knowledgeable professionals who will continue to educate and change the lives of the students whom they impact daily.

See you in Philadelphia for NASPA 2011!

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