During challenging times, such as the past months, it is more important than ever for student affairs professionals to collaborate and learn from each other. In higher education, many factors make our institutions unique. Whether you work at a small or large institution, public or private, 4-year or 2-year, there is one constant that we all are experiencing, COVID-19. Although our institutions have different priorities, emphasis, and focal points, we are all working towards one goal, creating a new normal. The pandemic has generated unrest in everyday life, but through it, a common bond has formed.
THE OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE
When I started working from home, my supervisor sent me a list of ideas and projects to consider. At the top of the list was “look for professional development opportunities, such as webinars and readings.” This idea struck a chord with me. Although I have been fortunate to work with supervisors and institutions that understand and value the importance of professional development, I was now allowed to prioritize and focus on growth. As I am sure many others have done, I took advantage of every free online webinar offered through professional organizations, higher education corporations, and national student organizations. It has been refreshing to see professional development opportunities that have usually been restricted by registration fees, travel, lodging, and time away from campus, now being offered in the comfort of our homes or offices.
I have noticed more than ever, my involvement in NASPA at the regional and national levels has proven to provide impactful opportunities for me to grow my institution, my career, and my mental health. I am an avid follower and utilizer of the numerous NASPA Knowledge Community Public Facebook groups. These groups provide a forum for discussion of various topics while fostering conversation and collaboration between higher education professionals across the country. They also share guidance and best practices around social skills, racial injustice, COVID-19, and more. The bonds made through the professional organization resources are what keep us connected during a time of so much change and uncertainty.
If you are reading this article, I can bet you understand and appreciate the importance of membership in professional organizations. Through involvement, you make connections across the region and nation. The bright side of our “new norm” is that professional development opportunities have and will continue to be virtual for the foreseeable future. This is the time for you to share your passion and dedication to professional organizations and educational opportunities with others. Now, more than ever, attendance at conferences and educational webinar sessions are more obtainable. Budgeting has become minimalized to registration. For the first time, maybe ever, you get to attend professional development with your department colleagues or collaborate across campus with other departments. I urge you to research and utilize the resources that are now at your fingertips.
This is our time to broaden our learning opportunities. Collaborate across campus, learn from others, and involve one another as we navigate new paths we are all paving. We will not be successful if we work alone, we must work together institutionally, regionally, and nationally to create the best environment for our students. Utilize the opportunities available so you can grow personally and professionally. It won’t be easy, but if we utilize each other, learn from one another, and share our ideas, we can become the best professionals for our students.
If you haven’t already liked, interacted, or visited these opportunities provided by NASPA. Please visit or share them with others.
NASPA IV-West Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Naspa4W
NASPA National Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/naspaFB
NASPA IV-West Website https://www.naspa.org/region/region-iv-w
2020 Knowledge Communities Online Publication https://www.naspa.org/report/2020-knowledge-communities-online-publication
NASPA Membership website https://www.naspa.org/about/membership