Filling the “GAP”: NASPA’s Presence in my Student Affairs Journey

naspa graduate associate program gap

Brandon Ishikata, Loyola University Chicago

May 19, 2017

As a former NASPA Undergraduate Fellow (NUFP) at San Diego State University, I remembered the strong bonds between my fellow NUFPs, the loving relationship with my mentor, and the meaningful sessions I attended at NASPA conferences. Transitioning into my master’s degree program at Loyola University Chicago (LUC), I wanted to continue creating a similar experience and came across NASPA’s Graduate Associate Program (GAP). Now finishing up my one year term as the LUC GAP, I recognized how the program has positively impacted my student affairs experience and taught me three important lessons:  

  1. Find a Mentor Affiliated with NASPA at Your New Institution

    Especially as a NASPA GAP, having a mentor/student affairs professional associated with NASPA made my transition into graduate school a lot easier. The common bond for NASPA between my mentor and I allowed me to feel a part of my new institution, successfully execute programs geared towards graduate students and also start a personal/professional relationship.
  2. Learning Through Volunteering

In my graduate program, I have learned that professional development is personal and will be tailored differently for each graduate student. NASPA provides TONS of opportunities for graduate students through volunteering. From reviewing program proposals to sitting on a board, NASPA provides first and second year graduate students a solid foundation to start their professional development journey. I personally have learned best from practical experience, so make sure you check out open opportunities on Volunteer Central.

  1. Apply for the NASPA GAP Program!

Becoming a Graduate Associate (GAP) for NASPA was seriously a highlight in my first year in graduate school! Being a part in a cohort of like-minded and diverse student affairs graduate students was FANTASIC. It was a wonderful feeling knowing being in community with first and second year students who could empathize with job/internship searching and supporting each other during the highs and lows.

Plus, as a NASPA GAP, you have the opportunity to apply to become a NASPA Annual Conference intern! As the NASPA Foundation intern for the San Antonio conference, I gained an even DEEPER respect/admiration for the organization, our field, and strong connections with other interns from across the country. The friendships I formed from this program and internship have made this field feel more like a family. I consider these people not only to be colleagues, but caring/genuine people I am proud to call my good friends. If you are a NUFP Fellow and looking to continue NASPA experience into graduate school, this is the program for you!

Graduate school is like a puzzle. It can be complicated, confusing, and can be daunting at first. Things will change and you will move some “puzzle pieces” as you navigate your own journey. Although graduate school can be a challenge, know that professional organizations like NASPA are there for you to fill in those puzzle piece “gaps.” Serving as a NASPA GAP made me feel more competent and confident as a student affairs professional and has helped me fill in the missing pieces to my puzzle.

Applications for the 2017-2018 Graduate Associate Program and the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program are now open! Questions about either program can be directed to Jasmine Scott, assistant director of member engagement, at [email protected] .

Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of NASPA. If you agree or disagree with the content of this post, we encourage you to dialogue in the comment section below. NASPA reserves the right to remove any blog that is inaccurate or offensive.

To comment, you can login to your preferred social network. Comments are lightly moderated and we do provide the option for users to flag a comment as inappropriate.

Get in Touch with NASPA