I think I can speak for all of us when I say that every single year after attending ACPA Convention, I return back to my campus on fire! Convention has a way of coming just at the right time. In the midst of a turbulent and troubling political climate in which our most vulnerable students are feeling unsafe, unheard, and uncared for… current issues in education policy, such as school “choice” vouchers and calls for budget cuts to programs designed to support students who are too often left behind… the list really goes on and on… but in the midst of all of this, I leave Convention feeling hopeful, inspired, re-energized, and equipped with new tools to best serve students and to best serve my community.
As I reflect on my time at Convention, so much comes up for me. First, I am so grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with some of my most valued colleagues, all of whom impact my work in some way every single day. I’m thankful to have developed some new professional relationships with folks who I have admired since my time as a graduate student. And I think I’m most excited by my time getting to connect with those who are newest to our association – graduate students and new professionals. These folks are the future of our field and I appreciate that ACPA has a dedicated space for us to learn from each other and grow together as emerging college student educators. The community of ACPA, and the sub-communities found throughout the association, are some of my most cherished spaces. In these spaces, I feel alive… I feel whole… I feel challenged… I feel taken care of.
Second, I am moved by ACPA’s bold strategic imperative for racial justice. As a part of the Coalition for Graduate Students and New Professionals, I look forward to engaging in this call for a centering of racial justice in our work, not just as an entity group within the association, but as graduate students and new professionals in our everyday lives on our campuses and in our communities. Hearing our outgoing President, Donna Lee, and our incoming President, Stephen John Quaye, make this call with an unwavering and unapologetic passion was moving. I anticipate the operationalizing of this imperative will be challenging for us, as this kind of work is tough… it will be tough for white folks, like myself, to do the unlearning and unpacking that is necessary to engage in this work authentically… tough for folks of color, who often solely and unfairly bear the burden of teaching, coaching, and carrying people in dominant identity groups through this kind of work… tough for an association who has to own its history, its problems, and its challenges in today’s day and age. Tough work is important work. And as Donna Lee noted throughout Convention, we must engage in this work with love and compassion.
Last, I am thrilled to be moving into the Chair role for the Coalition for Graduate Students and New Professionals. While our time together at Convention was a whirlwind, each day passing more quickly than the previous, I am pumped up by the energy and passion this team brings to the table. I have to shout out our outgoing Directorate led by our outgoing Chair, Chad Mandala. Thank you all for your commitment and leadership. Moving forward, we have a lot of exciting work to do: a webinar series… the 8th Vector newsletter… the ACPA Ambassadors program… fundraising… case study competitions… not to mention all of our Convention-specific programs, and so much more! I’m honored to work alongside our talented incoming Directorate and our engaged membership. Get ready for a fun and fulfilling year!