Ignite Leadership. Influence Change. NASPA 2012.

Hello from Phoenix, Arizona!

I’ve been in this city since early Friday morning (which necessitated a 2AM shuttle pick-up that morning). It’s been a fantastic experience, partially because of the weather, partially because I’m not sick this year, and mostly because being surrounded by so many other student affairs professionals and interested students is incredibly re-energizing.

I spent the weekend attending and helping out at the annual International Symposium, which is a pre-conference event bringing together practitioners from around the world to discuss current issues in global education. I had the chance to speak with several other graduate students in the field, as well as professionals from around the US, England, Pakistan, Germany, and Australia (to name a few). One of the keynote speakers talked about the journey he is currently on, which is–quite simply put–establishing a brand-new university in Pakistan. (More to come in future posts about that.) Being around a pathway like this is so eye-opening to a graduate student and new professional. It again gives me something to which I can say, “I never even knew that was a possibility.”

Digressing a bit, I have to also say that sharing these unknown possibilities with students is going to be a primary thread in how I approach my work. Whether it is transitioning into college or into a new institution (transfer students), or urging students to contribute to literature on Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in higher education, or even exploring new career paths, I want to be able to present new opportunities to my students.

I have seen how theory influences practice through various presentations at this conference, how change can be difficult and slow yet so critical to student success. I have begun to identify areas where I believe I can make contributions: international education, transfer student services, commuter student services, AAPI issues, and how all of these issues translate to the two-year, community college world. I am swimming in ideas–yet I am also aware, by the presence of NUFPs (NASPA Undergraduate Fellows) and other graduate students and professionals, that there are colleagues who yearn to collaborate and contribute.

I have much more to share with you all in the next month or so before my Master’s defense. I hope to have even more to share afterwards.

Week 4: Just the Beginning

The week started yesterday, and it’s hard to believe that the halfway point of my second-to-last term is a calendar flip away. Several good things have happened in the past few days, so I suppose it’s time to share.

For starters, I am happy to report that I have a good lead on a project for a community college. I spent the last two months looking for advising opportunities with community colleges (really, anything with the community colleges), and I was unfortunately unable to solidify anything with Portland Community College. (However, I do have to give a shout-out to my contact, Brenda, up at PCC-Rock Creek because she was great and helping me try and coordinate something. It just didn’t work for this term.) After my potential PCC venture didn’t work out, I emailed one of my professors from last term. He works at Linn-Benton Community College, a nearby institution that with which OSU has a degree partnership. He told me he would mull it over, and about a week later, I had a voicemail stating that a colleague of his needed assistance with advising.

Specifically, his colleague needed help advising high school students taking classes at LBCC. In other words (or in Washington state lingo), I would be helping out with Running Start students–students that are participating in a program similar to the one in which I participated during my senior year of high school. I am planning to meet with LBCC on Friday to talk about details. If it works out, this will be a great opportunity to apply my knowledge of community college environments, as well as learning styles and communication.

Additionally, there might be a research opportunity coming up somewhere else, but until I have more details about that, I won’t discuss it further.

In terms of professional development, the Oregon Women in Higher Education conference happened this past Friday. I attended last year, and that was my first student affairs conference. During one of this year’s sessions, I noted how much more comfortable I was in the environment, and how that meant I was able to engage and participate more in the sessions.

The first session, led by another former professor–Dr. Jessica White–and her colleague, relied on story-telling to share lessons from motherhood and the workplace. For one, it demonstrated that professional, intelligent, working mothers are real people; they have their share of impatience and frustration. Raising children is not a fantasy life. However, even with frustrations, both of these women are able to take the lessons they learn from interacting with their children and families and apply them to the workplace. Doing so means they are able to make more impact, work more effectively, and weave the contrasting fabrics of life together.

Other sessions I chose to attend centered around themes of making career moves, probably because I am in the midst of job searching. I got quite a bit of good advice, including how to expand the search to include other venues, like nonprofit organizations. It made me feel more at ease, knowing that my interest in helping people through transitions does not have to be constrained only to higher education for my work to have impact. This is an aspect I want others in my cohort to be aware of, too, as with the reality of the job market, we may encounter hurdles in finding employment. So far, in researching Portland-area nonprofits, I have found that there is a common mission of improving communities. There are so many different ways to enrich the lives of others, and now I feel that I can share this with my students, too.

After returning from the conference, I balanced everything out by attending a friend’s Friday night taco night. It was a good shift, as I spent the rest of the night socializing with other students, most of whom are graduate students in different fields. After spending most of the day immersed in higher education, it was a nice way to wind down. The tacos were also pretty tasty, I must say.

I spent the rest of the weekend catching up on reading and homework, as well as applying for jobs in both the Portland and Los Angeles areas. It’s too early to tell how things will pan out, but I am staying hopeful.

Until next time…



Rain, Rain, Go AWAY.

Noticed the lack of blog posts this past week? That’s okay. Please take a look around the site, as I’ve made a few changes in lay-out and supplemental documents.

In other news, I’m over the rain. I was over the rain before the Willamette Valley basically shut down on Friday due to flooding. I got caught in a cloudburst after walking into the drizzle this afternoon. Not my favorite thing.

I’m still in the midst of job applications and preparing for my defense. It looks like I will be defending on April 13th, so I have quite a bit of work to do between now and then. (On that note, please take a look at my drafts of my competency reflections. They’re not polished, but they’re up!)

I’ll be attending OWHE conference this Friday for the second time. I’m looking forward to hearing from colleagues in the state about what they’re doing and how they’re working with students in various capacities. I am hoping to make some connections with Portland-area schools, to learn more in-depth about how services are working in that particular urban area.

On that note, back to work I go. Enjoy the rest of your week.

Note: WordPress.com won’t let me add multiple instances of the tag “rain.”

Re-energizing: NASPA Western Regional 2011 and Such

Last week, from Nov. 15th-18th, I traveled to San Diego for the first time ever. I attended the 2011 NASPA Western Regional Conference, “Anthology,” at the Hard Rock Hotel. It was, to be concise, a wise decision.

I made the choice to attend the regional conference after experiencing a wonderful national-level conference last spring in Philadelphia. While national conference is very energizing, I was especially interested in the smaller regional feel which would allow me to work specifically with people in the regions I will 99.8% end up in after graduation. I am a West Coast kind of girl, and I see many opportunities in our metropolitan-area colleges and universities–areas in which I can make meaningful contributions.

Choosing to attend the regional conference, however, also meant working with my university’s Dad’s Weekend schedule. My department hosts an annual breakfast, which I have a hand in planning, on the Saturday of the big football game. That event and weekend fell on Nov. 19th–which also happened to be the closing day of conference. I made the decision to come back on the evening of the 18th, missing a mentor’s keynote speech on the closing morning. On the other hand, since conference officially started on Thursday the 17th, with pre-conference events on the 16th, and seeing that I don’t have classes on Wednesdays, I chose to fly down a day earlier than the rest of my group to take some “me” time. I also wanted to explore the city of course, since I am enamored with travel and new locations.

Again, to be concise, flying down early was the best decision I’ve made in a long time.

I flew out of PDX at an off-peak evening hour on Tuesday night, which was relaxing beyond belief. No lines at security, plenty of seating at my restaurant of choice, and plenty of seats at the gate. Once on the plane, I overhead a flight attendant say that there were 31 passengers in the main cabin; we were flying on a Boeing 737. That basically meant my trip down felt like first class. In San Diego, I grabbed a cheap shuttle to my hotel. I had the shuttle to myself, so it was like a very inexpensive taxi ride. And at the hotel? Well, I’d taken the chance to book myself a king suite. I had a gorgeous room… all to myself. (And for the record, that’s the first time I’ve booked and stayed overnight in a hotel room by myself.)

When I woke up on Wednesday morning, I felt happier than I had in months. This was despite waking up with a nagging sinus headache, so you know I was doing well. It was great to wake up feeling refreshed and calm, not having to worry about anyone else but myself. I spent that morning reading  at a local coffee shop, and then I followed that up with a stroll down to the San Diego Convention Center, the bay front, and the Gaslamp Quarter. Being a stranger in a new city, by myself, was something I haven’t done since traveling to Europe in 2010. Maybe that’s why I felt so happy that day. I reclaimed a bit of that adventurer, and it was good to know that part of me is still alive and well.

Conference itself was an affirmation that I am still on the right track professionally. I can almost articulate that my interest in higher education–particularly public schools and community colleges–stems from a desire to support students through transitions. I want to facilitate deeper thought and push students to consider various levels of significance as they progress through college. I want them to see a broad horizon. I see the biggest areas of growth in the sectors I identified earlier because I have a feeling that some of the students believe they’re settling by choosing a public/CC path.

I am no expert in student affairs. However, I am a communication scholar-in-training and a business woman by practice. I am fired up about student affairs because it resonates with me. I believe that helping others learn to view situations with different lenses and perspectives is critical to their functioning in a globally-connected world. I have seen too many narrow-minded viewpoints come to light in recent times–some from surprising sources. I have seen too many people write off others’ experiences and world views–and that goes for people from all walks of life. It’s disheartening to hear people badmouth others, especially in a field that is supposed to help us grow and continually learn.

I am riled up about those negative things I hear from all venues because communication and relationship-building and fostering the beginning stages of understanding and comprehension is what I live for. It is a hard lesson to remember that not everyone in my field was a communication scholar. We have not all studied extensively human-to-human interaction in such a finely-tuned, minute way.

I have a purpose in this life and in this area. It’s to get people to listen–to others and to themselves. It’s about pushing others to challenge themselves. It’s about finding grace and goodness in the chaos of life, and it’s about passing that on to others who can change the world. Or at least change someone’s world.

(PS – Completely off-topic: I got stuck in Salt Lake City because it snowed, and my plane had to be de-iced. It was the first de-icing of the season, which meant everything backed up like crazy. It also meant that our “totally on-time if not for this weather” departure was delayed for two hours. Which also meant I got into PDX closer to 1AM instead of 11PM. Which meant I had to find a futon to sleep on so I didn’t fall asleep and die on I-5 in the middle of the night. Which meant I napped for four hours before getting back on the road to make it in time for my aforementioned event. My life: it is exciting?)