Shana Warkentine Meyer, NASPA IV-W Regional Director
May 10, 2019
It’s May--that time when those of us on the semester system enjoy countless rounds of end-of-the-year champagne chicken, awards ceremonies, and the ultimate culmination: Commencement. Three years, four years, six years (or more) have finally resulted in a degree! As students walk across the stage, faculty & student affairs professionals silently recount their interactions with the students: this student finally turned their life around after a freshman year full of drama and conduct issues; that student breezed through a double major and three minors without a hint of struggle; oh, my favorite student, who hung out in my office and was always the first to volunteer for special projects; the student who experienced insurmountable struggles, but made it to the apex anyway.
We bask in these students’ successes, forgetting for a brief moment, those who have not yet crossed that stage. Forgetting, for a moment, those who have left the University with multiple semesters or quarters’ worth of tuition debt. Forgetting, or, for just a moment, setting aside those who might not make it to a future Commencement.
May IS a time for celebration! Yet we must continue to press forward on helping more students succeed, ALL students succeed, and focusing on the mantra: Every Student Counts.
In April, members from across the region attended the Every Student Counts: Student Persistence & First-Generation Student Conference at Arkansas Tech University. This conference was co-sponsored by NASPA IV-W, the Arkansas Student Affairs Association and host institution, Arkansas Tech. We had representation from four states across IV-West (Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma) as well as one state from Region III (Texas – Northeast Texas Community College).
The topical themes for the conference were student persistence and retention, along with first-generation student excellence. The breadth and depth of topics presented at this one-day conference showcase the importance of Student Affairs in the retention discussion. Academic partnerships, co-curricular experiences, fraternity & sorority life, green zone training, LGBTQ+ populations, supporting undocumented students, student mental health, and generation Z were just a few of the many focus areas throughout the day. If you were unable to attend the conference, presentations will be uploaded here: https://www.goarsaa.com/spring-drive-in.html. Please be patient as it may take some time for all materials to be posted.
Is your campus interested in hosting a drive-in conference on a similarly important topic? Campuses can apply for up to $1700 to provide an on-campus professional development opportunity such as Every Student Counts. It’s never too early to begin thinking about how we can continue the conversation. Applications are due September 30, 2019, with the Region IV-W Advisory Board making their selection at the fall regional conference, to be held in Fargo, North Dakota. Notification of the program selected will be in November. Members are invited to apply online at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScexQFSJxzNozNJHCQaBGynNESEm6Nj_96AbePF6n5MDfXSyA/view
NASPA understands retention is a core component of student success. Student ARC (Advancing Retention in College) is a NASPA initiative that focuses on the critical component of emergency aid and how it ties to student persistence. Information about types of emergency aid, critical components, tools & resources can be found at: https://studentarc.org/
How does your institution celebrate Commencement? What are some of the programs and services you implement to ensure that every student counts? I’d love to hear from you!
Your involvement in IV-W is one of the things that makes our region special. We have a family feel, and part of that is your willingness to get involved! Here are a few opportunities I want to make sure are on your radar:
I always appreciate hearing from you. How can your region better serve your needs? Please reach out at [email protected]. Happy closing & Commencement!
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