Going Forward: Reflecting on My NASPA GAP Experience
It’s hard to believe that just last month I walked across the stage for my master’s hooding ceremony.
My time as a graduate student certainly wasn’t easy, but what I gained (not at all correlated with a few extra pounds gained) has been worth it. For myself and so many in this field, our research, programming, and long days are all focused on a worthy aspiration: the success of our students. Even still, the journey of earning a degree in higher education is quite the whirlwind. A close friend of mine described it best: the time flies by, but you feel every day.
Despite the ups and down, a clear positive mark in my graduate school experience was being a part of the NASPA Graduate Associate Program (GAP). For those of you who are not familiar with this program, GAPs serve as official NASPA liaisons to their institution. Through conversations, events, and programming, GAPs are able to show their peers and colleagues all the benefits and resources NASPA has to offer to student affairs professionals. As someone who had zero involvement with the organization as an undergraduate student, this was a perfect opportunity to not only tell my friends about NASPA, but learn more about it myself.
The benefits of being a NASPA GAP are plenty, but I what I enjoyed the most was getting to connect with fellow graduate students from other institutions. It was a great opportunity to expand my network, which only increased when I attended the 2018 NASPA Annual Conference this past March. Annual Conference is huge, both in actual numbers (over 8,000 attendees) and sheer volume (literally hundreds of programs per day). After one particularly large event, I felt somewhat lost in the sea of participants until I heard someone call out my name. Sure enough, it was a fellow GAP who was attending for the first time as well. Despite having only met through conference calls, we instantly connected. They even saved the day when I later needed a last minute laptop cord for my presentation!
My experience at the 2018 NASPA Annual Conference is what the NASPA GAP program is all about: relationships. It is both impossible and downright silly to think we can do this work for our students all on our own. Being a NASPA GAP makes such collaboration with your peers not only possible, but worthwhile. I am so thankful for the people I was able to meet, especially knowing that we may have never connected had it not been for NASPA. For those interested in the NASPA Gap experience, I highly recommend it.
Someone once told me that we are only at our strongest when we surround ourselves with those who build us up. After my time in graduate school, and specifically the GAP program, I have to say I agree.
William Teer is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a Master’s in College Student Personnel. A Teach for America alumnus, William has a passion for equity in education and is excited to begin his career in college access or admissions related work. In his spare time, he enjoys live music, movies, and jogging with his rescue dog, Gomez.
William would also like to give a special shout-out to his former students at El Dorado High School in El Dorado, AR. Congrats, EHS Class of 2018!
The NASPA Graduate Associate (GA) provides leadership and outreach to their institution regarding all things NASPA. Primarily, the associate increases awareness and involvement within NASPA by providing updated information about programs, events, and resources to their fellow graduate students and other individuals interested in learning more about NASPA. GAs serve as an unofficial graduate student council, providing another perspective for NASPA student membership. GAs will also have the opportunity to apply to be an intern for the 2019 NASPA Annual Conference in Los Angeles, CA.
Applications for the 2018-2019 class are due on August 27, 2018.