In a space where policies seem to be ever-changing, gaining a collection of ideas and practices on navigating higher education during a pandemic is vital. Coming into the NASPA Annual Conference, I was thrilled to have this opportunity to connect with other professionals around the country. As a graduate student on my way to becoming a full time professional in student affairs, it can feel overwhelming with the amount of data, practices, and policies that continuously impact what we do in this career. Yet, the opportunity to learn from those in my future profession through their mentorship is an important way I can connect with my field.
The NASPA Rhatigan Fellowship allowed me to have this opportunity by supporting my efforts in coming to the NASPA Annual Conference. I was able to engage in important conversations around mental health, diversity, equity, and justice, and innovative practices that I can implement. I am coming out with more knowledge and insight into tangible implementations that I can bring in my current and future roles. Not only was I able to gain knowledge, but I had the pleasure of being able to present on the importance of vulnerability which has shaped who I am as a leader. Vulnerability based supervision is all about being authentically you and focusing on the foundational building of honest and brave relationships between ourselves and students leaders.
Looking back on my experience, three big takeaways stand out. The first is that we are all here to support one another through these unusual and challenging times where health- physically and mentally- are at their lowest. In this day and age, check in on one another and as professionals, practice the self care and compassion that we tell our students to do each and every day. The second is that we have the opportunity to shape the future generation of transformative leaders, and we are in the position to make those spaces accessible and vibrant. We all need to take responsibility in making sure we are setting up intentional spaces for individuals to connect and engage in these difficult conversations. Finally, is to remember that we once were in these students' shoes so after a few tough years, let's all take a step back and look to see how we are standing strong in student support efforts and make the changes that are needed!