I spent last week in Durham, NC at the NASPA Region III/SACSA New Professionals Institute, held at North Carolina Central University. After working with 41 fellow new professionals from across the South, six wonderful institute faculty, and one amazing institute facilitator in Brit Katz, I am so energized to do wonderful work from this point forward. I don’t think there’s any way to convey the depth of what I got from the experience, so I will share the highlights.
I have never gotten the opportunity to spend time in Raleigh-Durham, and have had very limited experience on the campus of a HBCU. Getting to see both was a great change of pace from what I’m used to. It was relaxing to get to go for runs each morning around a campus that wasn’t my own (and in an environment that wasn’t a million degrees), and Jody Conway has made sure that I have a deep appreciation for exploring other campuses 🙂
The few forays that we made into town revealed lots of things I like in an area- diversity, several college campuses, culture and exposure to nature. I don’t know that I would live in the area, but I would definitely go back to visit.
NPI challenged me to think in a way that I haven’t been challenged to think in a while. More than just digesting conference content the way I have at NACA or previous NASPA conferences, the Institute encouraged us to think through each session we were presented with, to ponder how it applied to us, and to consider what we would do with the information.
And that knowledge didn’t just come from the facilitators, it came from my fellow Institute attendees. The fellow professionals in Durham were thoughtful, reflective, and so knowledgeable. So often we’re too buried in work to maintain learning about the profession; if we manage to read it all, there’s not much time to digest everything. When challenged to do so, the full group shone. I loved learning from everyone, and hope we get to continue to do so with one another.
I have alluded to this in the rest of this post, but I had a wonderful time meeting people at NPI. I’ve wanted to make new friends and find people who understand the work I do for quite some time, and have relished the relationships that I got to create in Durham. They are enthusiastic and diligent, smart and entertaining. We worked together and played together for a week, and I hope that our seeds of friendship and professional affiliation will only continue to grow as we continue our journeys. We planted seeds of relationships this week- I know I will do what it takes to help those seeds grow, and I hope my new friends will too.
When I look back on the formative experiences of my career, I can tell that this is going to be a significant experience for me. It allowed me to make new connections in my work, learn more about how to be successful at this stage of my professional life, and to truly reflect on what my next steps will look like. I am so excited to start putting the new lessons to work, and even more enthusiastic about keeping up with the new friends I made. I will leave you now with a selection of quotes from our fearless leader, Brit Katz of Millsaps College. He might be my new spirit animal- when you read the selections, you’ll understand why 🙂
“Let the smiles be our umbrellas.”
JUSTIN: My name is Justin, and I’m passionate about Superman.
BRIT: Who isn’t?
“Look for me, I’m one of [Beyonce’s] backup dancers. I’m passionate about it.”
“Is this a good dance move?”
“It just amps me.”
“Love it, mean it, never change, sign my yearbook!”
“It’s not who you know, or what you know, but what you know on who you know.”
“SSAOs: Are We Fractured or Whole?”
“Why don’t you love this? God, we do!”
“Demonstrate effective syntax!”
“After six and a half years, I finally got the down payment, moved into my place, and promptly turned the stereo up to 6, lit nine candles, and propped open the front door.”
“If we weren’t inside the building, I’d light nine candles in your honor.”
“Money isn’t gonna bring you happiness, but boy it’ll make you comfortable while you’re looking for it.”
“Thank you so much.”