Honoring Our Past, Creating Our Future
It's been a little over a week since I left this year's NODA Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas and I'm still trying to process everything that I learned there. The conference was certainly a whirlwind between the Graduate Symposium, the case study competition, programs, and the presentation that I did with my fellow cohort member.
When Eddie asked me to co-present with him at NODAC, I had no hesitation whatsoever in saying yes. Not only was it on a topic that I'm passionate about, but it would also give me the opportunity to be immersed, even if only for a little while, in the profession that served as the first stepping stone in my path to student affairs. I have to admit that the thought of doing my first presentation at a national conference was slightly intimidating. I'm just a second year graduate student, not even working in orientation, transition, or retention (OTR) services. What could I possibly have to say to a group of professionals that they haven't already heard? Nevertheless, Eddie and I moved forward with our presentation.
Our presentation was "Honoring Student Veterans: Creating Orientation Programs to Enhance Their Futures." The focus of our program was to outline what components are important to consider when creating some sort of orientation session for incoming student veterans. We really wanted to emphasize that these can be incorporated in any kind of institution no matter what kind of resources, budget, or support is present. In addition, we of course used Florida State University's Veterans Center orientation as a model. I was happy with the amount of people that we had in the room considering that we were presenting on the last day of the conference and considering that there had been several other sessions in day prior that had presented on the similar if not the same topic. It was amazing to see that these were all professionals who've been in the field for a while who were engaged in the conversation that we had in our session. I heard so many good discussions during our "Think, Pair, and Share" segment of the session.
Afterwards, one of the professionals who went to our presentation came up to me and told me how great it was and how it was exactly what he needed to hear to bring back to his institution. It made me feel good to hear that our presentation was not only well-received but also helpful.
NODAC was my third professional conference that I've attended, and after it, I can't help but feel like Goldilocks. It was my "just right" conference. Just like students find their perfect fits at certain institutions, we as professionals in the field find our fits in certain conferences. Attending NODAC reaffirmed my love for orientation, transition, and retention programs and provided me with the confidence to keep sharing my knowledge about functional areas that I'm passionate about. I'm looking forward to doing my next presentation at the NASPA Annual Conference in Baltimore, Maryland and to hopefully be able to attend NODAC next year in Orlando, Florida.