#TPE14 & #NASPA14 - Adventures in Baltimore, MD

Attending TPE and NASPA

By Jake Frasier

After eleven days in Baltimore, Maryland I am finally back in sunny Florida. I was fortunate to attend both The Placement Exchange (TPE) and the NASPA annual conference in Baltimore this year, and it’s hard to believe they’ve come to an end. As a second year graduate student, we spend an incredible amount of time fine tuning our resumes, perfecting our cover letters, and purchasing the perfect interview outfit – all in preparation of the job search in the Spring.

The first step on this exciting adventure is The Placement Exchange, which is essentially an enormous job fair with hundreds of employers all searching for the perfect candidate to fill their vacant positions. As a candidate, we’re told for months on end leading up to the event that it can be overwhelming. My first thought when arriving to TPE for the first day of interviews was a bit different, however - while there were a ton of people there, I did not feel overwhelmed at all. I attribute my ability to maintain my energy throughout the day of interviews to my extroversion and the fact that I love meeting new people and hearing about their unique experiences. The setup of TPE consisted of various interview “neighborhoods” where a multitude of interview tables were set up and divided by curtains. Additionally, there were four waiting areas determined by candidates’ last names – this is where you really bonded with the other candidates. It was fantastic to interact with folks from other institutions and hear about their experiences, but also be there as support and share some encouraging words.

One of the greatest observations I had during TPE is how incredibly prepared I felt throughout the four days of interviews. During each interview I was really able to speak to the phenomenal experiences I’ve had at Florida State and felt prepared to take on anything. Whether it was mock interviews in our Capstone course, practice interviews with my supervisor, or the amount of research I did for each position, I never felt like I was burning out. Once TPE concluded, I shifted my focus to the NASPA annual conference, which started immediately after TPE ended.

Last year I was fortunate to be able to attend the ACPA annual conference in Las Vegas, Nevada so I was really looking forward to seeing how NASPA compared to my experience at ACPA. While some folks told me ACPA and NASPA have certain disparities, I really didn’t notice any glaring differences. Similar to my experience at ACPA, I felt incredibly proud to be from Florida State – so many of the interactions I had were with someone who shared a connection with a colleague at Florida State or they had attended our program and were a member of our LifeNet. As the conference continued, my pride in our program continued to grow as I attended several of my peers’ conference presentations and saw what phenomenal professionals we have all become. Thinking back to our matriculation in 2012, it’s amazing to see just how much we’ve all learned and how we’re investing that knowledge back into the profession.

My NASPA experience was really rounded out with our annual Florida State University reception. There were well over 100 individuals who, in some way, have been a part of the Florida State LifeNet. Seeing the breadth of experiences and knowledge in that one room was incredible. As I approach graduation, I can honestly say my experience at Florida State has been one of the most beneficial experiences of my life and I cannot wait to see where my colleagues and myself end up.

Posted on April 23, 2014 .

Experiencing FRAS for the First Time... Again

Advising a student conference

By Lisa Gilbert

Christine (then a fellow RA) and I picking up FRAS supplies for my first FRAS conference

Christine (then a fellow RA) and I picking up FRAS supplies for my first FRAS conference

My junior year of college I received a character-themed packet of pure gold. It contained nearly everything I would need to know in order to write a resume, a personal statement, a cover letter - the core of what I would need to apply to graduate school or a job in student affairs. Spelled out in a thirteen page document was the beginning of a career choice, one that offered the opportunity to help people and facilitate change that would matter.

Two years later I'm a three-time FRAS veteran and a first year graduate student studying student affairs.

My junior year of college I attended FRAS, the Florida Resident Assistant Seminar. FRAS is a two day student conference seeking to provide an opportunity for RAs from across the state to share ideas and to learn from one another. Usually anywhere from 20-30 schools are in attendance, resulting in over a hundred eager and energetic RAs seeking knowledge from their peers and professionals. RAs learn new programming ideas to bring back to their residence halls, methods of coping with the stress of their jobs, ways to sell their skills in job interviews, and gain insight on issues such as diversity and social justice.

This year I was given the opportunity to advise Florida State's FRAS delegation alongside a Residence Coordinator. We embarked on a four month long adventure that involved crafting, philanthropy collection, learning chants and working on presentation submissions. I was able to watch my students go from having no understanding of all that FRAS would encompass to seeing them bouncing in their seats with excitement en route to Gainesville for the conference.

The proud FSU RAs and advisors after the awards ceremony

The proud FSU RAs and advisors after the awards ceremony

Throughout the course of the weekend I saw my students connect with individuals from other institutions, forming friendships they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to create. They attended conference sessions that further opened their eyes to the world of Residence Life, learning about the differences in policy and job expectations between institutions. They demonstrated school pride with utmost class, representing their university well all weekend. Our delegation networked with professionals from across the state, making connections that will benefit them later in life. Over the course of that two day conference, I saw my students grow exponentially. And while I was trying to guide them towards a place of growth, I realized that I had grown, too.

FRAS was a life changing conference for me. It was at FRAS that I chose a career path, met some future colleagues, found mentors and role models that I could look up to. FRAS not only helped me grow as a RA, and now as a #SAgrad, but it helped me grow as a person as well. Advising this year's FRAS delegation provided me with the opportunity to see this conference have the same impact on the students I was working with. Accompanying this great group of students on their adventure also allowed me to experience FRAS for the first time again, but from a different perspective. Being a part of passing on the FRAS tradition to the next generation of Student Affairs professionals has been indescribably rewarding. I can only hope that in years to come, some of my RAs will have a chance to be sitting where I am and realize what a gift it is to give back.

Kleuver (fellow advisor and Residence Life Coordinator) and I at the end of the conference

Kleuver (fellow advisor and Residence Life Coordinator) and I at the end of the conference

Posted on March 5, 2014 .

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 .

Reflections from NODAC 2013


Honoring Our Past, Creating Our Future

By Karina Balaoro

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.

FSU HESA graduate students in attendance at NODAC 2013 

FSU HESA graduate students in attendance at NODAC 2013 

Posted on November 19, 2013 .

2013 Hardee Fellows Induction Ceremony

Congratulations to our 2013 master's and doctoral Hardee Fellows!


Hardee Fellows are graduate students who achieve a 3.8 overall GPA and have completed 18 credit hours at Florida State University. Hardee Fellows are named each fall at the Hardee Induction Ceremony and honored at the commencement ceremony in the spring. Fellows are eligible for Hardee Center travel and research grants where funding allows.


Masters Students

Nicolas Babarskis

Karina Balaoro

Vanessa Ball

Sarah Boeckmann

Steven Crudele

Caitlin Dejong

Rachel Dodd

Jacob Frasier

Eddie Higginbotham, IV

Shelby Huffman

Marlynn Lopez

Leslie Mille

Andrew Nash

Stephanie Rewitzer

Lauren Richards

Kelvin Rutledge

Sarah Shields

Rolando Torres

Austin Townsend

Sachet Watson

Kristen Zernick


Doctoral Students

Marilyn Anglade

Diana Barbu

Rebecca Brower

Rachel Bukanc

Kathleen Callahan

Grady Enlow

Kellie Gerbers

Kenneth Gloeckner

Eric Godin

Carrie Henderson

James Hunt

Steven Kleuver

Louis MacIas

Jonathan Ottley

Shawna Patterson

Dante Pelzer

Titus Queen

Susannah Shiner

Bolling Stanley

Tadarrayl Starke

Paul Stonecipher

Mackenzie Streit

Dana Urrutia

Monoka Venters

Rachel West

Jillian White

Brantley Willett

Yi-Chen Wu

Posted on November 13, 2013 .

NASPA-FL: Attending my first regional conference

Reflections from a second year graduate student

By Jake Frasier

Several weeks ago I found myself in Orlando, FL for the annual NASPA-FL Drive-In conference at the University of Central Florida. I had never been to a drive-in conference before so I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Something unique about this trip was that I was heading down to present with my friend and colleague Patrick Heneghan, a Residence Coordinator at Florida State.  He and I were accepted to present on an RA programming model we adapted and had been piloting since July 2013.

  View Presentation Here

 View Presentation Here

The feel of the NASPA-FL conference was different from the national ACPA conference which I attended earlier this year. The NASPA-FL conference had just over 300 attendees, which made a very intimate conference as many of the attendees knew each other; I saw many reunions, hugs, and coffee catch-ups while walking around the conference location. After lunch I was able to attend two different concurrent conference sessions, with one focusing on strategic planning and the other on guiding students through the conduct process. While both presentations were interesting, I was left wanting more tangible take-aways I could bring back to my position and institution.

The last concurrent session of the day was when Patrick and I were slated to present. As we geared up to begin our presentation, we had about 25 attendees present to hear us speak. Our presentation went really well as we had a lot of participation from the audience during the session and spoke with several people afterwards to answer questions about our program.

My biggest take-away from the presenting experience was how much it made me feel like a professional. As a second year graduate student I don’t think I realized that I’ve had a year of experience and knowledge acquisition and am beginning to become experts in my specific interest areas. It was great presenting on something that I was not only interested in, but also helped implement on our campus. I really felt a sense of ownership and authority when talking about our topic to other conference attendees.

FSU HESA  LifeNet members at NASPA-FL 2013 

FSU HESA  LifeNet members at NASPA-FL 2013 

Overall I would say the NASPA-FL drive in was incredibly beneficial. I was able to really develop professionally by presenting on a topic I was interested in, and even got to meet several professionals outside of Florida State. I would encourage anyone who is interested in presenting or attending a conference to step outside of their comfort zone and present at smaller regional conferences as a means of practicing. 

Posted on November 4, 2013 .

#SAgrad to #SApro: feeling more at home with each new day

Reflections from a recent FSU HESA alumna  

By Jessica G. Dean

It’s been nearly five months since two of my cherished faculty members, Brad Cox and Kathy Guthrie, carefully placed a master’s hood around my neck.  On May 13th, 2013, my M.S. in Higher Education was conferred in an intimate and heartfelt ceremony, where each student (now master) crossing the stage was more than a classmate, colleague, or friend.  Over the course of the last two years, these men and women became my confidants, my inspiration, and my family.  We only had one night left, as so many had plans to begin their next step the following morning. Goodbye was too hard, so we instead exchanged our “see you soon’s.”

And we did--not always in person, but we have remained connected with one another since leaving our second homes in Tallahassee, FL.  We may be all over the country (the world in some cases), but we’re also in each other’s minds, hearts, and sometimes cars. While leaving behind #sagrad has had its fair share of challenges, the transition to #sapro has been a good one.


Jessica G. Dean, Student Services Program Coordinator

Department of English, Clemson University

Although I only have one title, I wear many hats—even at a large, public institution like Clemson.  My responsibilities include academic advisor, internship coordinator, study abroad know-it-all, alumni outreach coordinator, scheduler of over 200 sections of English courses, and Solid Orange Friday supporter (see right). Jumping straight into orientation advising only two weeks after my arrival on campus, I have learned that, just as in graduate school, it is all about maintaining balance among my various responsibilities. I’m still serving as an advisor to my Greek organization, taking care of my sweet puppy, Riggs, and trying to get in as much daily exercise as possible.  It hasn’t exactly gotten any easier, but I continue to have supportive influences in my life to help, both in and outside the office. 

Last week, I experienced my first national conference as a professional. It was both different and familiar.  It was the first conference I attended where I didn’t have a colleague to attend sessions with, so I made connections with people I met along the way, which challenged the introvert in me unlike previous conference experiences.  It was also the first conference where I had a job description directing me toward sessions rather than my general student affairs interest areas.  It was FANTASTIC!  If you were following my tweets on the #nacada13 backchannel, you probably already know that I enjoyed myself.  Now that a week has passed, I look forward to maintaining the connections made and getting more involved with NACADA as a professional.

Five months later, I still wouldn’t say that I’m completely settled into my apartment, community, or position, but everyday I feel a little more at home.  Go Tigers!!


Posted on October 16, 2013 .

Swimming Without Water Wings

Reflections from a first year #SAgrad

By Lisa Gilbert

Have you ever looked at the calendar and wondered where on earth the time went? For me, it feels like just yesterday I was crossing the stage for my graduation from Florida Southern College, and suddenly I find myself entering my sixth week of graduate school here at Florida State University. But now that week six is upon us all, I feel as if I’m finally getting into my stride and settling down from the roller coaster that my FSU transition has been.


I arrived in Tallahassee in early July to start training for my assistantship as an Assistant Coordinator for University Housing. To say we hit the ground running would be an understatement! After an intensive three weeks of head staff training intended to prepare me (hopefully!) for all of the experiences I’ll have as a housing professional, we then jumped straight into two weeks of RA training. I can honestly say that I think I consumed more caffeine in those first five weeks here at FSU than I did during my entire senior year of college. Once you add the five days of opening our campus residence halls to that schedule, I think the amount of caffeine consumption would rival that of my entire undergraduate career (if only I was joking – hellooooooo Red Bull cases and coffee runs!).

Once everything Housing related wound down to a close, it was finally time to start the semester. At this point all I could think was “Pardon me while I attempt to catch me breath!” Finding myself back in a classroom after what felt like a lifetime of Housing training and the Great Summer of Post Graduation Relaxation was definitely a different experience. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the transition into graduate level academia hasn’t been rough. I’ll compare it to the time when I was six and after running on a wet deck fell into the deep end of the pool without my water wings on - my cousin had to jump into the water and save me. The only difference is that this time there was no cousin to drag me out of the pool. The seemingly never ending reading assignments coupled with graduate level writing felt like it would result in me curling up in the fetal position, rocking back and forth whilst holding a childhood stuffed animal. It was far more difficult than I had thought it would be, and despite my determination to be successful and enjoy my time at FSU, I started to have doubts.


And yet the fetal position never occurred. Despite the lack of water wings I’ve been able to stay afloat, to kick my way over to the wall and save myself from my stumble into the deep end. Those niggling doubts have vanished. While classes have certainly been intense, they’ve been interesting at the same time. It’s been great seeing something work in my assistantship and having those experiences reflected in the literature I’m reading in class. While there have been days when I’ve asked myself “Am I sure about this? Are two more years of school REALLY necessary?” I’ve been able to push myself to see the light at the end of the tunnel: the point when I adjust to the class work, to the pressures of working in an assistantship that treats me like a professional, and to the need of having a social life.

I know there are a lot of long nights ahead of me, filled with textbooks and theory and papers galore. I know there are going to be days when I will wish that I could be anywhere but here in grad school. There will definitely be those moments when my to-do list seems to stretch on for miles with no end in sight. But I also know that there will be days when I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. There will be days of cohort bonding and intramural volleyball games with HESA members and rewarding moments working with my students. And those moments – when I can stay afloat in the pool without the water wings – will make all of this worth it. Those are the moment when I’ll remember how to kick my legs and swim.

Posted on September 30, 2013 .