Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Wisconsin College Personnel Association (WCPA) Conference in Wisconsin Dells. This year’s theme was: “Being Your Best: Navigating from Challenge to Opportunity.” This is the second year in a row that I have had the opportunity to attend this conference. While last year was great, I felt that I got more out of the conference this year. Instead of simply just attending the conference, I chose to become more involved. I attended a commission meeting for Graduate Students & New Professionals. At the meeting, we brainstormed ways grad students and new professionals could become more connected and involved with the organization beyond just attending the conferences. I think we came up with some great ideas. For myself, I would love to be able to connect with other grad students from around the state. Up to this point, I’ve been able to connect with and learn from grad students from around the country and now I want to take that state level.
The other really cool thing that I did at the conference was partake in the Graduate Student Case Study Competition. One of my friends/classmates asked if I’d be interested in being on her team and I said yes. I was on a team with three other people: a mix of classmates and my co-intern from Madison. We rocked it! We may not have made the obvious choices with the case, but we backed up our reasonings rather convincingly. We were also able to answer all the questions the judges threw at us after our presentation was completed. Ultimately, during lunch on the last day of the conference, we found out that we were awarded first place in the competition! We all were beyond thrilled! Our hard work and intense discussions paid off.
I went to an array of sessions throughout the 2-day conference. Sessions included the topics of job searching, helping returning adult students with campus technology, using learning communities to help with multicultural student retention, and responding to the challenge of social justice through immersion experiences. All were great sessions and my favorites were the latter two in my list for two reasons: they were great sessions, and the speaker was from my alma mater UW-Eau Claire. We were also able to listen to Dr. Tom Jackson, former president of ACPA discuss the impending merger between ACPA and NASPA (the two leading student affairs professional organizations). I was lucky enough to be sitting at the same table as him and was able to have a small discussion prior to him speaking to the rest of the conference attendees. The lessons I ultimately took away from this conference were to get involved as a grad student and that life will be challenging you every step of the way. It’s how you deal with that challenge that makes you the person you are on a daily basis.