A First Time Attendee’s Reflection on the 2017 Community Colleges Institute

naspa community college division

Alisha Cahue

April 24, 2017

I started working at Austin Community College (ACC) just over one year ago. Before that, I had experience with Residence Life, Student Activities, Admissions, Orientation, and International Programs- but always at four-year institutions. This past year has been eye opening and has really helped me to think about and reframe my attitudes towards education. Now that I have a grasp on my own role, I attended the 2017 NASPA Community Colleges Institute in order to learn from others on how to best support community college students, especially when many of them are putting in such effort in order to attend college.

It was exciting and empowering to hear from my colleagues from all over the country talk about their challenges and successes. With nearly 100 attendees, the Community Colleges Institute presented a breadth of networking opportunities. While we [community college professionals] may all have differences at our institutions, we are all going through similar struggles when it comes to engaging faculty, managing the risk for minors, balancing relationships with external partners, adequately staffing our departments, and gaining the funding to accomplish all of our goals. The best part of this pre-conference was hearing how my colleagues have creatively come up with solutions to these problems and thinking about how we can move forward to incorporate some of those strategies at my own institution.

I was a bit surprised to see so many sessions on the topic of staffing, job searching or career changes in general. It is exciting to have so many colleagues who have experience to share when it comes to these topics. I am not actively searching for another role, but I really enjoyed the session Preparing Your Professional Advancement: The Pathway for Community College Professionals as it taught me many things that I can do currently in order to make sure that I am a competitive applicant when it is time to move on.

Overall, this pre-conference was very educational, provided bonding experiences with my ACC colleagues, and taught me about things I didn’t know I wanted to learn. I was able to come back with connections to other institutions, a renewed excitement for future possibilities, and only a few blisters from walking all around San Antonio. I hope we can continue to learn from each other outside of the conferences as well.

The Community Colleges Institute occurs every year before the NASPA Annual Conference, so definitely keep an eye out for information about the 2018 event! 

Alisha Cahue is currently a Student Life Coordinator at Austin Community College. She has a passion for developing teams and working with student leaders. She completed her master’s at Northeastern University.

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