I recently spent four very exciting, informative, collegial, and occasionally troubling days at the NACAC 2016 Conference in Columbus, OH. Starting with the great stuff, and working towards the stuff where there is great potential (in the next post):
I remain floored by how I got there to begin with. NACAC is not generally considered something for or by people of my ilk (transfer out at the community colleges), so my involvement has been pretty much limited to the exchange and the regional affiliate, NYSACAC – that that involvement started when I was in four-year enrollment management, not because of my current role. Still, despite that fairly limited engagement (length of emails notwithstanding), when Steve Peifer discovered that I wasn’t attending and that to do so was budgetarily unattainable, he asked if he could seek aid on the exchange. Here is my actual and unaltered response:
I’ve had people offer to pay me to stay home before, so that would be a change. Go for it, I’m shameless. I’m dying to see the framing anyway – Dear membership: It has come to my attention that we will be shy a pretentious windbag at the coming conference, throwing our balance dangerously out of whack between that group, the pretentious but quiet, the non-pretentious windbags, and the category everyone assumes that they are part of. For just a dollar a day (averaged over the next thousand days or so, payable up front), you can sponsor this opinionated blowhard for your own amusement or as revenge on an enemy who will be attending. Act now!
Clearly, I did not anticipate what was to come. In days, and before I had actually remembered to ask for permission to go, Adam Ingersoll of Compass Education Group, Akil Bello and James Murphy of Princeton Review, and Cigus Vanni, recently retired HS counselor from NJ and current consultant, had booked my flight, registration, and paid for the hotel. Cate Armstrong of Academic Services in CO also contributed, buying a wonderful dinner for Steve and myself. Arun Ponnusamy of Collegewise made sure I didn’t pay for drinks for two straight nights, and more importantly, introduced me to incredible people and conversations. To all of these individuals, and to all of those who thanked me for my meager contributions over the last few years, I cannot express enough gratitude. If nothing else were to come from this, getting to meet the force of nature that is Marie Bigham; verifying that Jon Boeckenstedt is a real person, and not just a computer or magician; connecting with ACCEPT: Admissions Community Cultivating Equity and Peace Today; reconnecting with old friends, connecting in new ways with more recent ones, and creating new ones – makes this one of the more remarkable conferences I’ve ever been to. So, thank you.
And Steve, you’re the man.
(By the way - if you want to have your emotions treated like Silly Putty for a few hundred pages, read his book. When I say "I laughed, I cried," I mean it, often on the same page, and usually to the acute discomfort of whomever was riding next to me on the train into work.)
I’m hoping to start contributing with my next post, I promise.