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Voices of the Global Community

Sandra M. Waters, Old Dominion University

Sandy Waters.jpgAn academic advisor's job includes encouraging students to get involved in campus activities that will help them become better students and contribute to their academic and career development. I'm here to tell you that you need to listen to your own advice!

Here is my story about how taking that advice and getting involved in the NACADA leadership has helped me with my academic and career development. I've been in the advising profession since 1990, and from the beginning I attended the NACADA Annual Conferences regularly, went to some of the Regional Conferences, and once and a while attended a state Drive-In with a team from my campus. These were all great opportunities to get to know my colleagues at Old Dominion University and explore the diverse practices of professional academic advisors.

Then, in late 2004, I was asked to take over as Chair of the 2005 Region 2 Conference in Virginia Beach. I had turned down the role in the early planning stages because I didn't think I had the organizational skills to do something that big, and I had too much going on in my personal and professional life to take on one more challenge. But, when I was contacted a second time at a later stage in the planning process, my life had calmed somewhat, and I said "yes." Much of the planning had already been completed, and I was assured by the Region 2 Board members that they would be there to help.

Once I got over the shock of agreeing to host 300 people at a Conference hotel that was still under construction (it opened just a few weeks before the Conference), I got a great team of people from across my campus to help and contacted a few colleagues at other institutions in our area to give some of their time as well. The Conference was a tremendous success, and we all had a good time getting to know one another a little better. Following the Conference, a very nice letter was sent to our University President thanking her for allowing all of us to participate in hosting the event.

Little did I know that this was going to be just the beginning! During the Awards breakfast on the last day of the Conference, a NACADA leader leaned over to me and said, "I think you should run for the Region 2 Chair position." I was surprised and flattered. Caught up in the euphoria of the moment, I said I thought that was a splendid idea. (Isn't it wonderful how some leaders have the most incredible sense of timing-they know just when to ask us to do something! That's why I'm writing this story..)

So, here we are, two years later, and in just a few weeks I will be installed as the Region 2 Chair at the Annual Conference in Indianapolis this October. A second letter was sent to my President after the election to let her know the results, and she responded with a congratulatory letter thanking me for my involvement with the professional association that is known for promoting excellence in advising and contributing to student success.

I truly believe that being involved with NACADA has lent credibility to my recommendations for improving the academic advising processes at my institution; my President's congratulatory letter expressed her belief in the importance of continuing to develop our advising program at the University. This involvement has not only provided the knowledge and mechanisms for advancing our mission as advisors (academic goals), but it has provided me with promotional opportunities (career goals) that have elevated the importance of good advising for the sake of our students.

Take your own advice-get involved.

Sandra M. Waters
Director of Undergraduate Services
Old Dominion University

Cite this article using APA style as: Waters, S. (2006, September). Get involved in NACADA leadership. Academic Advising Today, 29(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]

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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.

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