Finding a New Family

ASCA through the eyes of a first year #SAgrad

By Freddy Juarez

Jude Legiste (fellow intern) and I

Jude Legiste (fellow intern) and I

A little over a week and a half ago I arrived in St. Petersburg not knowing what to expect out of the Association for Student Conduct Administration (ASCA) Annual Conference. I had been selected as a “Presidential Intern” and had heard a lot about the association’s “family feel.” Coming to the conference, I was a bit skeptical as to how a large association could feel like a family.

As a presidential intern, I was tasked with surveying the membership on “Why ASCA?” The goal of this analysis was to pinpoint the association’s core ethos and provide a report to the ASCA Board of Directors so they could use the feedback in their planning process. In the weeks leading up to the conference and throughout it I continuously asked the membership “Why ASCA?” I expected largely disparate answers offering a wide range of reasons. However, I ended up getting one common theme emerging throughout all of the interviews: family.

I also had the privilege of sitting in on the Board of Directors meetings, which further reinforced this feeling of family. I was privy to the conversations being had by the association’s leaders on the direction of the association and the plans for the upcoming year. Really, the conversations were not about an association’s growth or the direction of the association, but rather they were about the growth of the family and the direction the family is headed. The level of care and passion that these individuals put into the past nine days was astronomical and it reminded me of why I came into this profession in the first place.

The ASCA Annual Conference interns

The ASCA Annual Conference interns

Additionally, I had the opportunity to present alongside the other interns at the conference. The four of us presented a session called “For the Grads, By the Grads,” a roundtable discussion for and with other graduate students that focused on the challenges and objectives graduate students coming into the field face. We had a great turnout and were able to form a support group for graduate students attending the conference. It was a great way to build our own network within the association to support ourselves through all the challenges of being a grad in student affairs.

The conference itself went by in a flash. I observed individuals who had not seen each other since the past conference reconnect and immerse themselves in laughter. I saw new professionals navigating the association, soaking up as much knowledge as possible from each presentation they attended. I witnessed support groups for groups of professionals that were facing an array of challenges. I was able to hear from individuals in our field who are renowned as experts, and then had the opportunity to connect with them afterwards. I have been to other professional conferences in the past, but ASCA was unique in that its founders were still present and involved at the conference. I had an opportunity to hear their wisdom and understand why they are still so invested in this association. I will never forget this conference, not because I was a presidential intern, but because it laid the foundation for my professional success. Throughout the nine days that I was there I was adopted into the ASCA family. I gained new friends and reconnected with some old friends. All in all, it held true to its core ethos: ASCA is a family. It is my family.

The Florida State LifeNet at the ASCA Annual Conference

The Florida State LifeNet at the ASCA Annual Conference

Posted on February 16, 2014 .