Saturday, March 26, 2011

NACADA friendships

I usually come to NACADA conferences alone. I'm not antisocial and I work with a large team at my home institution, but money is usually too tight and people too busy to take the time. But, I love NACADA conferences - particularly Regional meetings. And, since I'm often the lone wolf from my institution, I thought I'd use this, my first ever blog attempt, to ruminate on NACADA friendships and meeting people at conferences.
I attended my first Region 2 conference in 2006 in Lancaster, PA. That conference was particularly notable because it was my first Regional conference and because I met an advisor from VCU named Art Esposito. We struck up a post-concurrent session conversation in the hallway, bonding about Facebook, which no one else was talking about at that point. We shared the concern that advisors were missing a crucial link to our students if we continued to ignore the growing power of social networking. Since then, Art and I have presented together on the topic, and I've watched in awe as he became the guru of web 2.0 issues in advising.

In meeting after meeting, I've found the NACADA crowd really welcoming, particularly to a lone wolf. At last year's Region conference in Atlantic City, NJ, the Penn State gang, including Janet Schulenberg, Hilleary Himes, and Sean Bridgen, shared dinner, drinks, and an amazing conversation about how to define our profession without artificially limiting the breadth and background of its practitioners. It's a big tent, we decided, and we're the richer for the diverse viewpoints.

I've appreciated that advising practitioners generally practice what we preach. Advisors are a welcoming group - chatty and interested and willing to strike up a conversation with a lone wolf. I've found that I leave each conference with more energy, lots of new ideas, and more than a few new FB friends from the advising community.

This year, the Region 2 conference in C-ville offers something new -- I'm not going to be alone. I'm shepherding some grad students from my institution, Jessica Ha, Gary Panetta, and Rich Sigal. They are energetic and excited and represent great hope for continued excellence in our field. They're at the beginning of their careers, and I'm excited to share NACADA with them.

But, just because I'm in a group this year, please don't hesitate to say hello. I can't wait to meet you.

Julie Traxler

Rutgers University


  1. Thanks for the props, Julie! That was my first conference, too. It blows me away how much I've grown professionally from the contacts I made at that event. The conversations you and I have shared, and the presentations we've worked on since, still form the foundation of my praxis. And the colleagues and friends I made through the Region 2 Mentor program read like a "who's who in region 2" (Ruth Hussey, Terry Musser, Peter Hagen, and the list goes on). I hope you'll be encouraging your grad students to get involved with the Mentoring Program and The Grad Student Thread we have running through the conference this year. They need to have a serious look at PC4, C37, and C53--a great series of presentations specifically focused on Graduate Students looking to break into the field of advising.

  2. Being one of these graduate students, I am VERY excited to have this opportunity to meet with individuals practicing advising over the Region 2 area. I cannot thank either of you enough for the insight and direction you've provided for my first NACADA conference experience. I have been eagerly flipping through pages of past NACADA journals in anticipation of the event. As a 'first-timer' I hope to meet many new colleagues and hopefully leave with lasting communication and friendships. I'm ecstatic to attend and learn from the best professionals in the business!