Raquel Cabral, Ph.D., Director of Owls Care Health Promotion, Florida Atlantic University
September 5, 2018
Allow me a moment to tell you a little bit about the NASPA Strategies Conferences and why you should join me in Washington, D.C. on January 17-19, 2019.
I am a relatively new member of NASPA. While my professional career has mostly been in student affairs, I always assumed that NASPA was not my professional home because my field is health and well-being.
A few years ago, I learned that NASPA hosted the Strategies Conferences. I was intrigued by the fact that NASPA had conferences that focused on mental health; alcohol, other drugs and violence prevention; and sexual violence prevention and response. This was completely outside my preconceived idea of what NASPA offered.
Shortly after learning about the existence of the Strategies Conferences, I learned that NASPA was expanding the Strategies Conferences to include a track for Well-being and Health Promotion Leadership. How exciting!
I had the opportunity to be part of the planning committee for the inaugural Well-being and Health Promotion Leadership NASPA Strategies Conference. What a privilege it was to get to work behind the scenes and understand the deliberate efforts that went into making this conference one of a kind. It felt a bit like cheating to get to enter so late in the game and still get to work side by side with the leaders in the field, have a hand in shaping the conference, and grow professionally in the process.
If you, like me, work in the area of health and well-being, these NASPA conferences are for you. These conferences are an intersection between our fields of study (i.e. health promotion, public health, mental health) and the environment in which we practice (i.e. student affairs, higher education). The speakers and breakout sessions are selected by planning committee members who understand the work we do and are familiar with the trends in the field. As an added bonus, several sessions provide continuing education credits for those who need them for licensure and certification. The conferences also provides numerous opportunities to network and engage with experienced colleagues.
If you do not work in the area of health and well-being, these conferences are still for you! Everyone plays a part in making our campuses healthy and thriving academic communities. You are an integral part of your campus community and these conferences will teach you how to make impactful contributions to the well-being of your community.
The 2018 Well-being and Health Promotion Leadership Conference welcome letter stated, “Expect to be challenged, strengthened, and to grow in your ability to provide leadership on your campus.” That was indeed my experience. The conference’s focus on building systems capacity rather than focusing on specific programs helped me think about ways to make high impact and lasting changes on my campus. I felt renewed enthusiasm for building health-promoting communities. I felt challenged by colleagues who helped me consider different approaches than those I had originally taken. I felt inspired by those who shared stories of their success.
We all play a role in supporting the well-being of our campus community. I hope to you will join us to learn from others and share your successes in building processes and structures to support the well-being of our campus communities.
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