2020 NASPA Annual Conference

The Power of a Personal Story

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Higher education simply would not be what it is without the environments that it creates for individuals to share stories about their journeys, the research they’ve done, and the experiences they have in being on a college or university campus every day. Every year at the NASPA Annual Conference we have the opportunity to hear from several professionals with varying levels of experience who share with us powerful stories of survival, lessons learned, reflection, conquering challenges, and different ways to approach our roles as part of the SA Speaks programming.

SA Speaks sessions are submitted by our peers and selected by our colleagues. These 10-minute talks allow for a view of the world from the perspective of the presenter. The speakers provide an innovative look at important topics and share ideas about how we can change the student affairs profession and transform learning in higher education.

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to be one of these individuals and led a session entitled “Being an Outsider in an Insider Profession.” In my SA Speaks session I spoke about my non-traditional pathway into the profession including never having been enrolled in a higher education class or program, being born and raised in Las Vegas, being a Hip Hop Head, being first-generation, and being an introvert in a profession that is majority extrovert. Being under the spotlight and on the stage was quite the experience, but what has been most lasting for me are the connections that I’ve been able to make with people across the country who have reached out to me in various ways since my SA Speaks. I’ve shared introvert stories with colleagues across the nation over social media. I’ve shared my non-traditional path with undergraduate and graduate students in various classrooms. I’ve had the chance to do presentations for groups on being a "Hip Hop Head in Higher Education" in an upper-level administrative position and I’m frequently identified as that introvert guy when I attend conferences and meet people for the first time. 

This year, I am on the other side and serving as co-chair for the 2020 NASPA SA Speaks program. We again have 15 talented professions who will speak with the audience about topics concerning empowering students through purpose; the importance of pronouncing names correctly; strengthening international student success; thriving through the impossible; knowing the power of your story; womxn of color in leadership; wearing kicks to work; life as an under 40 vice president; creating bridges; their exodus through education; who are we really; navigating mental health, motherhood, and millennial adulthood; faith and chai; and being fired. I can’t wait to hear their stories, struggles, and journeys and hope that you will join me in learning from and listening to them.

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