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.
Until next time,