Talking with Taylor: The Benefits of Attending Professional Conferences

Taylor Gale is a second year student in our Higher Education Student Affairs program and is an Area Coordinator at SUNY Geneseo. A graduate of St. Lawrence University, Taylor’s previous experiences include working as a Graduate Assistant in Parent and Family Relations at the University of Rochester. Taylor is also a Co-Chair for the Higher Education Student Association here at Warner, and at our most recent Study Saturday event, we discussed her experiences at the College Student Personnel Association (CSPA) and The College at Brockport Resident Assistant Conferences, respectively. Check out Taylor’s thoughts below!

1) What made you interested in attending the conference?

My department at SUNY Geneseo values professional development and gave us the opportunity to attend the CSPA conference without having to use our allocated professional development funds. CSPA was particularly interesting to me because of its significance to Higher Education in New York, which is where I would like to remain working. It was a great opportunity to network and to learn from other professionals.

As for the Brockport RA conference, my department asked if anyone was willing to chaperone/lead several of our student leaders to the conference. Many of them applied and got accepted to present. I volunteered because conferences give you a great opportunity to learn from colleagues at different institutions but also see students shine talking about the parts of their job they are passionate about.

2) What was the most memorable part of the conference?

CSPA: The most memorable conference moment was during a keynote. The presenter was discussing Educational Curriculum plans and how having a more structured approach to co-curricular learning will be a great benefit for our students. I was particularly interested in the idea of circular learning and having the co-curricular education plans build over a student’s four years, similarly to their academic course work. This not only allows university staff to utilize skills and knowledge built in their Master’s programs, but it makes the increasingly important assessment pieces a great deal easier.

Brockport RA: The conference had a professional track, which was quite beneficial. The last session provided an open-forum for the professionals to pick topics and share one another’s feelings or knowledge. The discussion was at first very uplifting – many of us shared why we became student affairs professionals. The discussion ended very productive, a conversation about FLSA, our worries, and strategies. Overall, we all walked away wishing we had the entire day to pick each other’s brains.

3) What was your biggest takeaway from attending?
Both: It is not only important not to allow yourself to be siloed in your departments, but also in your institutions. It is important to collaborate and share with one another for the betterment of our students and Higher Education.
4) Would you encourage current higher ed students to attend conferences in the future? Why/why not?
Absolutely! Conferences really allow you to reignite and/or discover passions and refocus your purpose in the profession.

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