My love affair with Poutine: ACPA 2016

My love affair with Poutine: ACPA 2016

12825118_10208477085342717_1592128045_n Hi Everyone!

My Name is Ali and I’m so excited to be blogging for Canisius Graduate Admissions. My grad. program has provided me with some really cool opportunities this year, and so far, my favorite has been the ACPA Conference in Montreal, Quebec.

The American College Personnel Association is an awesome organization that puts on a national conference yearly to provide professional development opportunities to Student Affairs enthusiasts all over the nation! At this conference, there are hundreds of sessions put on by professionals in the field that cover endless topics such as greek life, leadership, retention, assessment, student activities, etc. etc. etc. Basically every single topic you could think of involved in the realm of student affairs is covered. I was lucky enough to go to this conference, attend some really good sessions, meet some really good people, eat some really good poutine, and learn a lot about the field I am aspiring to be a professional in.

My favorite session was one about Leadership. It really resonated with me because it spoke about the difference between being a role model and being a hero. In student affairs, we often find ourselves in situations where we must help students–whether it is helping them academically or personally, it’s in our job description to provide guidance to them. Sometimes, it’s easy enough to solve their problems for them–make one phone call and things are fixed. In those cases, we are heroes. But when we provide students with the resources to help them solve their own problems, tell them stories of our own failures, and show them that we’ve been through it too, we are role models. We give them a reason to want to persevere on their own, and in that way, we are leading them towards success of their own accord. I absolutely loved that.


One of my favorite books is called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. It talks all about how to be good leaders, we must be vulnerable. This concept of vulnerability is a thread that has been weaved into every aspect of my student affairs journey thus far. A few years back, I attended a LeaderShape conference in Boston, where I learned that we must embrace our weaknesses and our insecurities in order to be trustworthy leaders. When I read Brown’s work, I learned that facing our greatest fears of failure only makes us stronger, and provides us with the means to succeed even more the next time around once we have learned from our mistakes. I just love the idea of that. As an aspiring professional, I mess up a lot. There are days when I could kick myself for the way I handled things with a student, wishing I had done things differently. But I learn a little bit each time, and by accepting my weaknesses, I show that I’m a human too–I think students relate really well to that.

So the conference itself was beautiful. It really confirmed for me that I’m in the right field. The atmosphere was SO inclusive, and I’m so grateful that student affairs is a network of people that values acceptance so much. My fellow cohort members and I are very lucky that the cost of attending the conference is included in my tuition–Canisius’s CSPA program is the only one in the nation that takes all of their cohort members to ACPA. We all felt super cool wearing our matching shirts on the 8 hour bus ride.





Aside from professional development, I got to explore Montreal and see all of it’s beauty. Honestly though, who knew fries with gravy and cheese could be so dang delicious? I was lucky enough to indulge in poutine more than once. I had a DELICIOUS brunch of pancakes and fried chicken (I know, it was as gross/ amazing as it sounds). The craft beer in Montreal was delicious, as was the sushi–can you tell I like food? Food was definitely the highlight of my Montreal experience. Well, food, and eating food with some of my favorite people. I loved getting to spend so much time with the people in my classes.




I also saw the inside of the Notre Dame Basilica in Old Montreal. It was like a dream. Just gorgeous and indescribable. An experience that everyone should have if they visit the city. There are horse drawn carriages stationed outside of the church–we had the opportunity to feed carrots to Johnny! The streets were so clean and the people were so friendly, and I truly realized how much culture I’ve yet to experience in the world.




1618c153-0abc-44c8-8c7b-312338c72cc1In a nutshell–this trip ROCKED! I’m severely missing my fluffy cloud hotel bed right now.

Until next time,

Au revoir!baeef196-6642-496a-a2a0-c56144467195



Student Affairs Conference in Florida

Student Affairs Conference in Florida

Hello Everybody,

I know everybody must be getting excited about Spring Break.  I know I am! Today, I just wanted to talk about my journey I had in Tampa, Florida this past week. One of the perks about being in the College Student Personnel Administration program at Canisius College is that both cohorts in the program are required to attend a professional conference called ACPA. For those of  you who have not heard about ACPA, it is a professional organization for student affairs educators. ACPA means American College Personnel Association.

As part of our program and the required attendance for this conference, air fare and hotel is included in our tuition so we do not pay directly out of our pockets. The only items we had to pay for out of pocket was for our personal expenses such as food for the duration of the week trip. This is definitely a perk to being a CSPA student at Canisius College! Our conference was located in downtown Tampa at the Tampa Convention Center. This was my first professional conference I have ever attended and I must say it was quite impressive! The best part about attending this conference are the unique opportunities that are given to you while there. One of the many benefits of attending this conference is professional networking. I have met so many wonderful people at this conference and it was definitely a positive experience for me. I had the pleasure of meeting so many new professionals in the field of student affairs including admissions officers, hall directors, and directors of multicultural affairs offices on their respective college campuses. This was just a unique experience for me personally and professionally!


As a first year grad student, there is a mandatory ten page reflection paper required as part of the program. This was an opportunity to reflect on what you did at the conference and what sessions you attended and why you attended those specific sessions.  Part of the requirements for this paper is to reflect on the sessions you attended at ASPA and how it is applicable to my current coursework. So far, the paper is coming along and nearly finished. This past week in Florida has also been a very exhausting one as well because I had to attend 6 one hour sessions on different competencies in student affairs such as diversity and inclusion, research, and leadership. This was a great trip and I cannot wait to go to Montreal Canada for the next ACPA conference in March of 2016 for job searching.  Have a great Spring Break everyone and keep it real!


ACPA Convention 2015- all things sunshine and happiness

ACPA Convention 2015- all things sunshine and happiness

So as I can tell from my fellow bloggers, we have all had enough of this rough (and that is putting it lightly) Buffalo winter. Thankfully, the snow is almost all melted away and I can finally remember what grass looks like.

As the season turns to spring, I am getting closer to no longer being a Canisius graduate student and closer to being a higher education professional. And I must admit, I couldn’t be any more excited and prepared for what lies ahead. The College Student Personnel Administration program, directed by the outstanding Dr. Sandra Estanek, has laid the groundwork and provided me with confidence that I am prepared to enter a workforce that I sincerely have a passion for.

One of the best and most rewarding parts of being a CSPA student is that every year we are given the incredible opportunity to travel to a professional development conference as a cohort. Typically the conference we attend is ACPA (American College Personnel Association) which was held last year in Indianapolis, Indiana and this year- to my utmost delight- was in sunshiney Tampa, Florida. So I packed up my sandals, sunglasses, and summer professional wear (which has sadly been in a dark, sad place in my closet since October) and eagerly jumped on that plane. I consider myself to be a worshiper of the sun so Tampa had my name written all over it.

So now that you all know about my desperate need to go to Tampa for sunshine, it also is a great way to get to know people within your cohort on a personal level. These people who you share a class with on a weekly basis are going to turn into your colleagues at some point, even if they are working at a school in California and you are still in New York. One of the greatest pieces of advice I have gained this semester in my capstone class is to value the connection you make with your cohort members because they are ultimately going to be the people you turn to as a new professional with questions that you may not want to broach with your new supervisor.

The conference itself serves a general purpose to provide student affairs professionals and graduate students with a weekend jam packed with professional development sessions. A few days before the conference, there is also Career Central where those who are job searching can have interviews with one (or often times many) schools in all different functional areas and different parts of the country all in one place. As a first year student, you will have an assignment where you have to attend sessions based on the classes you are taking and write a paper about those sessions. But as a second year student, you have more flexibility in the sessions you attend because you may be spending your entire conference interviewing for jobs or you may be attending sessions outside your comfort zone to gain new insight or you may tailor your session schedule for areas you are specifically interested in.

Along with a lot of learning, networking, and fun, I also got a really nice tan 🙂


Grad Life!

Grad Life!

Hello everybody,

Life is just sweet because it is the start of the semester and work is starting to pick up.  I could not be any happier to be in the CSPA program because I enjoy working with college students and I cannot wait to start my career in Higher Education. My passion has always been this field since my involvement in my undergrad and life at Canisius could not be any sweeter especially with all the fun programming that goes along with it.

In the past couple of weeks, there has been some awesome events that took place on campus. I have to say “Welcome Week” was such a success here at Canisius College, I have no words to describe these events. My favorite events that took place during the week were Laverne Cox’s presentation and Petey’s Birthday Party. I had the pleasure of getting my picture with Laverne Cox after she talked about her life, which was absolutely amazing. For those of you who do not know who Laverne Cox is, she is an actress on the television show “Orange is the New Black”, which can be found on Netflix. I just started watching the show and it is pretty amazing! Anyway, Laverne Cox is also a transgendered woman and an inspiration to all. It is not just about writing papers and reading as a grad student at Canisius, but also enjoying the finer things in life too on campus, such as these wonderful events. The picture below was me with Petey at his birthday party event. This was also an awesome program if any of you on campus had a chance to attend. These programs were well worth it and it is nice to take a break from grad life and enjoy campus life as well. I will continue my posts about whats new in Student Affairs and my upcoming trip to my ACPA conference in Florida that I will be attending with my cohort in March. I am excited for the trip!


Winter Break!

Winter Break!

Hello Everybody,

It is that time of year to get ready to go back to classes yet again. I hope everyone finished strong before leaving to go home for the holidays, including those who are in graduate school. Winter vacation is that magical time of year when you get a much needed break from all those long assignments that are due and finals all crammed into one week, which itself can be very exhausting. . During Winter Break, I acted as the Lead Mentor for Campus Ministry and participated in the Winter Service Week.

As a current graduate student at Canisius College, this trip for me was very rewarding and reminded me why I am preparing myself to be a future Student Affairs professional because I love helping people and putting a smile on a person’s face for those who are less fortunate. During my trip, I helped empower the student leaders who took point on planning everything we were doing. We traveled to Syracuse, NY to help settle in refugees who were coming in from Somalia and Burma. This was quite an amazing experience for me because I never participated in something like this before! Several of the participants that went on this trip are truly a wonderful group of students who made a tremendous impact on their lives, as we were helping them learn english and help give them new clothing so they stay warm during the winter months, It was very sad to see some these families who came to America with nothing but only clothes on their back due to having to leave all their belongings behind because their lives were in jeopardy.

One of the most rewarding experiences I had attending this trip was hearing some of their stories . It was truly amazing  how much they learned  and it was just absolutely breathtaking to see how far they have come since their arrival in the United States. Overall, this trip was absolutely an experience I will never forget as a grad student and I encourage to those who never did something like this to do it.  I guarantee you it would be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have here at Canisius College. There are a lot of opportunities here at Canisius to take advantage of and I suggest a service trip with Campus Ministry is one of them.


Back to the Grind!

Back to the Grind!

Hello Everybody,

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Break and ate lots of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes!  Oh, I cannot forget pumpkin pie! Yummy! Well, now that break is over, it is time to get back to the daily grind to finish off the rest of the semester. It sure is going to be alot of work but will be worth it in the end. As a graduate student in the College Student Personnel Administration program, this time of the semester can be stressful because of all the papers that are due and more expectations with presentations. As a grad student here at Canisius College, there is always going to be support from your fellow cohort members in the program to help get you through to the end, which I feel is pretty awesome about this program.

As a student, working on all these papers and giving class presentations, made me realize the passion to succeed in this program and how much commitment is involved to the classes and to the institution. This time of year as a graduate student can be stressful, but also very exciting because the daily grind is soon coming to an end in a few weeks and the wonderful holidays are soon approaching. I am really excited about the end of the semester because this gives me the chance to put my feet up and relax. At the end of the day, all of us graduate students need to take a break. Also, time management is also key to being a graduate student.

Being a graduate student at Canisius College can be stressful, but is also great because students in the CSPA program only have classes two days a week and the rest of the time is work and homework. I just wanted to blog a little about the end of the semester craziness and that we all sometimes need a break as grad students when times get stressful at moments like these. To relieve some of this stress, On December 3rd from 7pm-10pm, Canisius College Student Programming Board will be hosting Christmas in the Quad in Palisano and all students are welcome to attend! Hope to see you there!