As if it wasn’t already common knowledge, everyone knows that March is the best month of the year. Period. March is home to my birthday (March 18th), March Madness basketball tournament, and the end of the Winter season. However since 2015, March has been even more special because it is the month of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) Annual Conference. This year, NASPA was celebrating its 100th anniversary in the City of Brotherly Love.
The NASPA Annual Conference is the premier student affairs professional development event. This conference welcomed over 8,000 student affairs educators from across the world, including 3,000 first time attendees. NASPA has been my professional home since my conference experience in New Orleans, as I have been engaged in their NUFP program, Dungy Leadership Institute, and NASPA Knowledge Communities. Every year, I am always excited to travel and connect with colleagues who have become family and strangers who become friends.
This was also my first time in Philadelphia, so I wanted to explore the historic city. Along with my cohort family, we decided to hit up a few Philadelphia staples.
We also discovered, in my opinion, the best cheesesteak in Philly – Jim’s Steaks.
And I can’t forget about my first WaWa experience – s/o to CeCe for taking care of me! Lol
When I wasn’t exploring the city, I was attending educational sessions and networking with professionals so that I can learn how to better support my students at Ohio State and beyond. I was also selected to present with a dynamic team on the specialized student-athlete populations and college choice, retention, and success. Our presentation was dope to say the least (yes, I am biased – but I am also telling the truth) and I am humbled to have had the opportunity to present with phenomenal researchers and practitioners.
And just when I thought NASPA 2018 could not have gotten more special, I was wrong. During this conference, I was recognized by the NASPA African-American Knowledge Community with the “Umoja” Graduate Student Award. This national award is presented to a rising young professional who continuously seeks to integrate their research and practice with the needs of the African population and who demonstrates the principals of the award, Umoja: the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, “I am We,” or “I am because We are.”
This recognition is for everyone in my village who has challenged and supported me to become who I am today. I’m so proud of us and am excited to see how we will transform the world together.
Unfortunately, we had to leave the conference sooner than expected to avoid the inclement weather entitled Nor’easter – still don’t know what this means. Lol However, this conference was everything I needed in more. Unconditional love and support is rare and when you know what it feels like, it’s hard to leave. I am extremely grateful for all NASPA has done for me, including but not limited to relationship building, peer mentoring, and program presentations. Returning to Columbus, I feel more confident to articulate my values within the workplace and will take purposeful intersectional approaches to individual prevention education. The last five days have been life-changing, because it has changed the way I live my life.
Can’t wait to connect with everyone at NASPA 2019 Annual Conference in Los Angeles!
Encourage somebody to be great today!