Cornelius K. Gilbert, NACADA Emerging Leader
CARPE DIEM – a well known saying that many people believe – exhorts us to make the most of every opportunity in these days. Although a very old adage, I have found personal proof of its timelessness in my involvement with NACADA.
I became an Academic Advisor in July 2001, and before long I was blessed to not only become a member of NACADA, but also to become active and engaged in the Association. Since I joined NACADA some years ago, the organization has continued to grow and develop. In the previous edition of this publication,Charlie Nutt,NACADA’s Executive Director, declared his happiness with the rapid pace of increased membership. To his delight, Charlie noted NACADA’s membership at over 10,000 strong – perhaps by the time you read this, we’ll have reached 11,000!
NACADA’s exponential growth is a clear indicator of the wealth of opportunities for members to become active within the organization. As a young professional developing my career, NACADA has proved to be a tremendous blessing to me not only professionally, but personally as well. In fact, I have found NACADA to be a sort of “Promised Land.”
When I first became active in NACADA, I had absolutely no idea of the good things in store for me. I originally began on a micro scale by attending annual WACADA (state) conferences in Wisconsin. It was not until 2003 that I attended my first Regional Conference. My school, the University of Wisconsin (main campus located in Madison, WI) was hosting Region V that year. For the conference, I submitted a proposal and was fortunate to present a paper I had published. From there, I attended another WACADA conference in Green Bay. At the Green Bay conference, I approached and introduced myself to Charlie Nutt at the conclusion of his keynote address. Since that time, Charlie and I have remained in contact and always speak with one another at NACADA’s annual meeting. Our relationship grew, and Charlie supported my application into my Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin by writing a letter of recommendation for me.
NACADA has been a place of encouragement and excitement for me as well. Leigh Cunningham (NACADA’s Coordinator of Educational Programming), Gary Cunningham (NACADA’s IT Manager), Julia Wolf (NACADA’s Assistant Director of Operations and Administration), and so many others have welcomed me into NACADA with warm and open arms and have afforded me plenty of opportunities that have helped me in my professional development. I can honestly say that NACADA pays attention to their people, and am I very grateful for the suggestions I have received for a variety of projects that members think might be a great fit for me. For example, a few summers ago, Leigh contacted me to see if I would be interested in writing for Academic Advising Today. Needless to say, I was delighted to do so and produced a piece entitled Improving Academic Advisor Preparation through Cultural Self-Awareness.
Since that time, I have presented at WACADA and numerous annual conferences. The 2005 NACADA-Las Vegas Annual Conference holds my fondest memory. It was there I was blessed to present some original research regarding an examination of the nexus between hip hop and the practice of academic advising. I have been truly blessed to enjoy a great amount of accomplishment within NACADA, because NACADA Leaders and Executive Office staff are willing to help develop and promote their members. Another example is the organization’s Emerging Leaders Program. I recognize the opportunities that were presented with this new program, and I am thankful I was able to seize them and am benefiting from them to become a better equipped professional.Jenny Bloom, NACADA’s President, is serving as my mentor, and she has truly helped and supported me in my professional development this year.
The door for my most recent opportunity was opened not by the “great folks” within the organization, but by fellow Academic Advisors and advising administrators. For it was with YOUR vote that I was elected to begin a two-year term as Chair of the Multicultural Concerns Commission when Kris Rugsaken of Ball State University has completed his term following the Annual Conference in Chicago this October. It will be quite a challenge to follow Kris and all of the positive work he has accomplished during his term!
I cannot say enough positive and exciting things about NACADA and how the organization and its people have influenced my life and my professional development! To my mind, NACADA is nothing short of being a land of opportunity overflowing with milk and honey for those with a desire to become involved. NACADA believes in the abilities of its members and for those with the desire to act upon their own faith by becoming involved will find that NACADA continues to advance the advising profession towards excellence and greatness not only for us as professionals, but more importantly for the students we serve!
Cornelius K. Gilbert
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Cite this article using APA style as: Gilbert, C. (2008, June). Seize the opportunity and live life abundantly, with overflow! Academic Advising Today, 31(2). Retrieved from [insert url here]