Sarah Ann Hones, NACADA Emerging Leader Mentor
It’s that time of year again. I’m looking at the end of the fiscal year budgets, preparing for summer advising commitments with summer staff, and considering the NACADA brochure—October in Orlando. Every year at this time, I contemplate my commitment to attending the NACADA Annual Conference. Typically, I don’t have funding from my university, so that’s not part of the consideration. Why go?
It’s a major part of my professional development. How can I stay active as a professional? The day-to-day concerns of my job keep me busy and leave little time to think about the bigger picture of academic advising that occurs outside my door. The Annual Conference offers me respite away from my office. It offers me the time and breathing space to choose how I want to build the advising knowledge I’ll take back and use, behind my door in Pullman, during those cold winter months. This time validates what I choose to do and helps me strengthen the tasks I do. To say the Conference reenergizes me doesn’t do the Conference justice! The NACADA Annual Conference gives me hope…hope regarding what’s possible in working with at-risk students; hope in the initiatives that seem to struggle to get off the ground; hope for my profession and my enthusiasm to work in the advising field.
Annual Conference is the opportunity to network with other professionals in advising. In 2009 in San Antonio, I met a young professional advisor from Europe attending the NACADA Conference for the first time. Nick talked about his enthusiasm for the Liberal Arts (how could I not be impressed?) and said he may attend next year with a presentation in hand. I also met my Emerging Leader partner for the first time. Luiza is doing so many exciting things in her work that I am inspired to consider how I can incorporate some into my position. Every year I renew my friendship with folks from the NACADA Executive Office and from all over North America. I call it networking, but it’s much more than that. During this last year these dear friends provided a lifeline for me during a rough and unpredictable year. I did not know if I would be able to travel again, and the thing I would have missed the most is the Annual Conference. My first trip after a year hiatus was the 2009 Conference. It was a warm and welcoming opportunity to test my wings in an environment that was safe and supportive.
The NACADA Annual Conference is unique in making me feel welcomed and a contributing member of the organization. Ever since my first NACADA Conference, I have noticed that everyone at NACADA takes an open and welcoming stance to new members. I’ve been to other conferences – usually one time! I don’t want to wander about a conference without connections or a sense of belonging. I want to be part of something that represents the academic advising field as a whole in an inviting and inclusive way. I was sitting with my speaking partner last fall when NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt walked by and said, “Hello, gorgeous.” Who could pass up that?
But here’s the real reason I’ll be there in October. I’m worth it. The NACADA Annual Conference is my birthday present to myself. For all the reasons I’ve listed above, I want to go to the NACADA Conference. I’d rather see my advising peers than have that extra cup of coffee every day, or those additions to my wardrobe, or that new chair in the living room. I want to be a part of this organization that offers a dynamic and engaging opportunity each fall for renewal, reinvigoration, and recommitment to this field I love. So I’ll be there. That’ll be me, probably in the same wardrobe, probably having had interesting airline adventures in coming across country, probably chatting happily with friends I haven’t seen since October 2009. I hope you’ll be there. Say hello if you see me!
Sarah Ann Hones
Director, Distinguished Scholarships
Washington State University
Cite this article using APA style as: Hones, S.A. (2010, September). NACADA annual conference: I'm worth it! Academic Advising Today, 33(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]