Behind the Curtain: My Experience on the 2017 SCFWB Conference Committee

As a new student affairs professional, I find great value in NASPA’s consistent and unique opportunities for student affairs educators and administrators. NASPA members have the ability to provide high impact support in furthering the field of higher education in critical ways such as serving on conference planning committees. I recently served on the 2017 Symposium on Collegiate Financial Well-Being (SCFWB) inaugural conference committee, and I can honestly say that this dynamic professional development opportunity was invaluable.

The collaborative effort of planning NASPA’s inaugural Symposium on Collegiate Financial Well-Being involved an array of expertise, which offered our committee members access to different perspectives on college students’ financial well-being stress. I was excited to represent the Wellness and Health Promotion Knowledge Community, adding a unique lens to planning and addressing such a complex topic. I also valued the opportunity to network with a diverse planning team. Our positions included director of student affairs, executive director, financial wellness program director, assistant director, economic crisis care manager, associate director, admissions counselor, financial wellness coordinator, associate professor, well-being coordinator and assistant dean of students. While the level of skill and expertise varied, each member was able to impart useful, relevant knowledge.

From developing conference themes to narrowing in on more intricate conference details, our committee remained timely, responsive, diligent and enthusiastic throughout. One specific key consideration with developing the 2017 Symposium on Collegiate Financial Well-Being was to assess the heterogeneity of our audience. It was important we considered several areas of collegiate financial well-being within higher education and arranged programs to best meet the interest and needs of all attendees. With this, our committee spent a significant amount of time examining different facets of how financial stress impacts college students, identifying intentional outreach opportunities and making careful decisions throughout the program selection process.

The entire process of effectively planning and executing such an impactful conference was rewarding and surprisingly not at all overwhelming; and after months of planning, it was a pleasure seeing the event come to fruition. The committee was able to connect in-person, debrief the conference, discuss 2018 Symposium on Collegiate Financial Well-Being planning strategies and coordinate post-conference actions. Serving on the planning committee while also attending the conference as a participant offered a unique opportunity, too.

Overall, volunteering for the conference in the capacity of a committee member has further enhanced my professional development, and I am grateful for this opportunity. It has been my pleasure to support the advancement of higher education by giving back and volunteering for NASPSA, and I look forward to volunteering in different capacities. As NASPA members, my hope is that we all find value in the volunteer experience and take advantage of new opportunities to do so!