Ten graduate students in the Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education (CAHE) traveled recently to attend the Student Affairs 101 Conference in Normal, IL.
The one-day conference at Illinois State University, complete with 16 workshop sessions, enabled faculty and graduate students to present their work regarding student affairs in higher education.
Participants examined current trends in student affairs to discern the difference between various types of graduate programs, to discover a wide spectrum of offices within student affairs and to gain an introduction to the life of a student affairs graduate student.
Eight of NIU’s ten students presented during the conference.
“For the students who were able to present, it’s really great professional development for them. It allowed them to work on their presentation and communication skills,” says Danae Miesbauer, academic counselor in CAHE. “Also, the opportunity to network with other professionals in the field was definitely a positive.”
Miesbauer was joined on the trip by CAHE faculty members Katy Jaekel and Carrie Kortegast as well as Kelly Olson, professional development and operations coordinator in the NIU Division of Student Affairs, who led a panel discussion with students.
Jaekel, who also serves as faculty adviser to NIU’s Prism group, which sent some undergraduate members to the conference, also enjoyed the chance to present with those students.
NIU presentations included:
- “Student Affairs Graduate Search: Trust the Process” (Miesbauer, Wendall Lytle and Carly Tucker)
- “Getting the Most out of Your Graduate School Experience” (Olson, Karina Castillo, Elbia Del Llano, Eric Gorman and George Paasewe)
- “Engaging Social Justice: Using Arts-based Methods for Inclusion in Student Organizations” (Jaekel, Ronan Kaiser, Gabriel Sonntag, Maggie Hitchcock, Kylee Warner, Alex Forgue and Elliot Davis)
- “Google Yourself: Examining Your Digital Footprint and its Effects on Graduate School Admissions and Applying for Jobs” (Paige McConkey)
- “Oh Yes, It Can Be Done! Campus Involvement and Degree Attainment” (Konya Sledge)
CAHE’s students participated in a pre-conference workshop at NIU to prepare. CAHE partnered with the Division of Student Affairs in the Conferencing, Presenting and Professional Networking Lunch and Learn event.
“Our students brainstormed what topics they might want to present, and we helped them with their proposals,” Miesbauer says. “I co-presented with two students and collaborated on writing and submitting a proposal. Even that is a learning process, and by going through proposal-writing in graduate school, you are more prepared when you enter the first step of your career.”
Students also received sound advice on peppering their presentations with strong examples and personal anecdotes as well as encouragement to practice and to time their talks.
“They really enjoyed the experience and learned a lot,” Miesbauer says. “They enjoyed meeting other students from around the state who also are graduate students in student affairs programs, making connections and finding internship opportunities. I definitely think it was positive in that regard.”
CAHE’s group came home with more than just hands-on experience, however.
“Not only did we provide a strong NIU presence,” says Suzanne Degges-White, chair of CAHE, “but our faculty staff also were successfully able to lobby to join the team of organizing schools and to get on the calendar to host the event in the fall of 2020.”
“It’s definitely an exciting and good thing for our Adult and Higher Education program,” Miesbauer adds. “This conference has been on a hosting rotation between Eastern, Western and Illinois State, and we are thrilled to be a part of that in 2020.”
Miesbauer appreciates the conference’s welcoming open door policy for students.
“Having students there just contributes to the larger student affairs field,” she says. “The conference is a collaboration on a state level to really support our undergraduates and graduate students who are moving into the higher education profession, and this promotes our commitment to them and the field.”
The College of Education funded registration and travel costs for students and faculty, who also were able to promote NIU’s program at the event’s Graduate School Fair.