My NASPA 2018 Experience

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Betzabel Z. Martinez, NASPA Summer Graduate Intern

March 19, 2018

Being at NASPA’s 2018 Annual Conference as a NASPA Summer Graduate Intern was a phenomenal experience. Having had to miss the Community Colleges Institute due to weather conditions that prevented me from flying into Philadelphia, I was determined to make the most of the 48 hours I had with NASPA.

As an intern, I had a tight schedule that included assisting various receptions, luncheons and events with some time left for me to attend educational sessions of my choice. Of the many tasks I had throughout the conference, the three highlights I appreciated the most were attending the VPSA & Voting Delegate Reception, NUFP Family & Friends Reception and the Community Colleges Reception (all in the same evening!).

It was a privilege to have been asked to assist in welcoming all the VPSA’s to the reception and meeting some very important people in the field. During this event, I had the honor to finally meet the president of NASPA, Dr. Kevin Kruger and introduce myself as one of his newest staff members. The NUFP Family & Friends reception created a whirlwind of emotions for me. I was reunited with many colleagues that I now consider family. Given that many of the folks I met at NUFP’s Dungy Leadership Institute 2017 are scattered across the nation, seeing everyone together again was heartwarming. Additionally, NASPA’s NUFP Board Chair, Dr. Tiffany J. Davis, welcomed NUFP into it’s upcoming 30th anniversary!

The most important event for me throughout my two days was definitely the Community Colleges Reception. I missed the CCI, so I knew that I had to make the most of this reception to make up what I had missed. As soon as I walked into the room, my NASPA supervisor, Jake Frasier, wasted no time in introducing me to his colleagues. At first I felt a little bit intimidated because I was one of very few graduate students in the room, but every mid and senior level professional in the room made me feel welcomed and happy I attended. I met some of the board members of the Community Colleges Division and was able to pick their brains a bit about what types of initiatives they foresee in the future for CCD.

Overall I took many lessons with me from NASPA. I had to learn very quickly to own my title and to accept the fact that my hard work and perseverance has led me to the position I have now within NASPA. I felt imposter syndrome coming into NASPA as a Latina and woman of color, but the NASPA staff, my NUFP family, and the LatinX KC helped reassure me that I DO belong here and that I DO deserve this role.

My vision for next year’s NASPA Annual Conference, is the Community College Reception to have a larger attendance than this year’s. Community colleges are very unique across the nation and each institution has its own methods of increasing graduation and transfer rates, and it would be a meaningful experiences for professionals to network with one another and discuss how they can be of resource to one another. Attending this conference reminded me of why I continue to work within student affairs: to work towards creating spaces that foster community, academic excellence, and self-exploration.

NASPA did an outstanding job at making this event feel like home. I look forward to NASPA’s Annual Conference 2019 in my hometown….Los Angeles, California!

Author: Betzabel Z. Martinez is currently a 1st year Graduate Student in the M.Ed. Educational Counseling program at USC, serves as Program Coordinator for the USC Topping Scholars Program, is a Student Success Coach at Rio Hondo College and will commence her role as NASPA Summer Graduate Intern in Washington, D.C. this June!

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