Michelle Williams is a first-year student in the CSSA program from Athens, OH. She is currently the GTA for Community Outreach in the Office of the Dean of Student Life.
I know people have talked about the NASPA conference in the past, so I wanted to talk a little about the Region 8 NACADA conference that I attended over spring break in Vancouver, British Columbia. NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising is a great organization to be part of for those interested in academic advising or academic support services (like I am!).
I took the 11 hour bus/train combo to Vancouver on Wednesday of finals week, so I had Thursday morning to enjoy the city before my first pre-conference session. I allowed Yelp to guide me for breakfast, which was my first experience with banitza (pictured), a traditional Bulgarian egg and cheese filled filo pastry (it was delicious!). The weather was perfect on Thursday, so I had a leisurely breakfast outside followed by a walk through Stanley Park and along the seawall before heading to the conference.
Out of the conference sessions that I attended, I had three favorites. One was a pre-conference session that won 2013 Best in Region 8, Does Happiness Matter? Applying Positive Psychology to Advising, by Teri Duever, an advisor here at Oregon State (OSU). Teri talked about the benefits of PERMA, Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and purpose, and Accomplishments, and how we can both adopt a lifestyle that fosters these things as well as encourage students to do the same.
Another of my favorite sessions was How to Lead Underserved Students Up the Ivory Tower: Promoting Student-Faculty Interaction, by Sharon Ericsson and Angie Klimko of Washington State University (WSU). This session was about the Critical Literacies Achievement and Success Program (CLASP) at WSU. The CLASP program was created to help support underrepresented students at the beginning of their college experience. It is a collaboration between the English department and a variety of support programs on campus such as Student Support Services and Multicultural Student Services, and the program helps students to improve their writing, learn the skills to navigate the university, and regularly connect with faculty. It also includes extensive training for the instructors of the English course and uses inclusive pedagogies in the classroom. I found CLASP to be a great way to support students by working with faculty to foster better relationships between students and their instructors, and I’m really interested to see how and where this program goes in the future. You can learn more about it on their website (http://clasp.wsu.edu/) (watch the videos to get a better sense of it!).
Another great session that I attended won this year’s Best in Region 8. It was Advising Students on Developing Resiliency as a Strategy for Academic Success, by two advisors at OSU, Kerry Thomas and Nova Schauss. Their session focused on the research around resiliency, protective factors, flourishing, fixed vs. growth mindset, thriving, and grit, and how we can use these concepts in advising. I’m really excited about this research, and I’m hoping to create a reading and conference course sometime next year to really delve into these different concepts.
Although conferences can be overwhelming, and trying to get to them in the middle of school and work can be difficult, I have really enjoyed the ones that I have been able to attend and encourage others to do the same when they are able (plus, as a student, the membership fee and conference prices are lower than they will be later!). My trip to Vancouver and attendance at the NACADA conference were both personally and professionally rewarding, and I look forward to future conferences!
Banitza, traditional Bulgarian egg and cheese filled filo pastry