NASPA
2021 NASPA Annual Conference

SA Speaks

Student Affairs (SA) Speaks and Unscripted are two dynamic opportunities for participants to engage with colleagues in thinking about innovative ways to address issues facing their campus/students.


SA Speaks

These 10-minute talks will allow attendees to view the world from the perspective of the presenter.

SA Unscripted

Attendees will have an opportunity to be a part of an intimate conversation between two student affairs professionals on a particular topic of relevance to the conference theme or the current professional landscape.


SA SPeaks

SA Speaks—Student Affairs Speaks—are submitted by your peers and selected by your colleagues. These 10-minute talks will allow attendees to view the world from the perspective of the presenter. The speaker will 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. This year, we are pleased to offer three sessions of SA Speaks on Monday and Tuesday of the Annual Conference. For session details, please see below.

Session Block I

Monday, March 30 | 8:30 a.m. - 10:15 a.m.
  • Can I Teach You to Juggle in One Minute?

    Presented by: Adam Peck, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs, Stephen F Austin State

    University Learning does not take place in discrete or isolated episodes. It takes place across time and interacts with other learning. That is not, however, how we often pursue or measure student learning. What results is an oversimplfied version of skill and intellectual development. In this funny and informative session, Dr. Adam Peck draws upon his training as a former stand-up and improvisational comedian to illustrate and explain the complexities of learning by teaching the audience to juggle.

  • Strengthening International Student Success: Creating a Bridge Between Student Services and the Career Center

    Presented by: Alistar Erickson-Ludwig, Assistant Director, Master of Quantitative Management, Duke University

    International students can struggle to adjust to a new cultural and academic environment. Building self-awareness, forming relationships with other students, collaborating with teammates, and breaking down barriers between students and staff are all necessary for academic, emotional, social, and career success. The presenter will highlight a recent partnership between student services and career services staff and will share how some low-cost, short weekly activity sessions can strengthen the aforementioned competencies.

  • We Wear Kicks To Work

    Presented by: Jeffrey Dess, Director, Center for Leadership & Engagement, New Jersey City University

    Wearing a pair of Jordan's and rocking some Adidas are about more than what professionals wear to work. It's a methodology. It's about cultural responsiveness, remaining authentic and student-friendly, and building bridges to where students are located. The presenters will demonstrate strategies and share how connecting to innovative students through the lens of wearing sneakers can make educators more relatable, no matter their professional level. This program will provide the audience with some tangible strategies and insights on how to address issues in archaic spaces and how to keep students at the forefront of all that we do. We'll include some important research, anecdotes, and swag.

  • Who Are We, Really? A Reflection on Equity, Inclusion, and Reconciliation in Higher Education

    Presented by: Mary J. Wardell-Ghirarduzzi, Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer, University of San Francisco

    What does it mean to walk with those who have been excluded on campus and society; with those whose dignity has been dismissed or violated, as an act of reconciliation and justice? Understanding our equity formation (or lack thereof) is essential work. Jesuit higher education offers a framework for truth-telling to our gaps in equity, inclusion and reconciliation through deep reflection. Do we really know ourselves enough to respond to the demands of justice from students?

  • You are Enough: Knowing the Power of Your Story

    Presented by: Talia Carroll, Director, University of Northern Colorado

    We are not immune to critique and judgment in our daily lives, and experiencing both can sometimes negatively influence how we feel about ourselves and our abilities. Who we are, too, in terms of our identities, can exacerbate those feelings. It takes flexing our “I am enough” muscles to successfully navigate the very experiences that can lead us to question ourselves. The presenter will share her challenges related to feeling like enough and how those experiences have shaped her work as a student affairs professional. Hear her talk about how you can set a new direction by engaging in positive, healthy behaviors that leave you at knowing that you are, indeed, enough!

Session Block II

Monday, March 30 | 3:00 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
  • Facing the Jabberwocky: How Student Affairs Work Taught Me to Thrive Through the "Impossible"

    Presented by: O'Keefe Johnson, Graduate Resident, University of Georgia

    Everyone has a "jabberwocky"to face-a dragon that seems horrifying and impossible to defeat. Perhaps it is a job search, an impending conversation, or a heartache or trauma caused by situations out of your control. The work we do as student affairs professionals is laden with the interactions between mentor and student where the student must face their own "jabberwocky." However, the presenter of this program will share what it looks like for us as professionals to take up our swords and face our own fears.

  • Faith and Chai: Reflections of Belonging as a South Asian American Student Affairs Professional

    Presented by: Justin Samuel, Assistant Director for Residence Life, The University of Texas at Austin

    Despite the expeditious growth of South Asian Americans (SAAs), not much is known about them in the collegiate setting. SAAs are diverse people who may geographically trace their lineage to one part of the world, but speak many languages and identify with a multitude of spiritual traditions. In this SA Speaks, the presenter reflects on being an SAA Christian. In doing so, he articulates how stereotypes and monolithic ideas of Asian Americans can be problematic.

  • Learning to Sail My Ship: Navigating Mental Health, Motherhood, and Millennial Adulthood as a SAPro

    Presented by: Lauren Wilson, Student Support and Training Specialist, Ottenheimer Library, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

    What do a pregnant college student, a single mother, a grad school dropout, a high school English teacher, and a higher education professional have in common? Everything, because these have all been used to describe one woman at various points in her life. Join this speaker as she describes how she has navigated through the stormy seas of mental health issues, motherhood, and millennial adulthood in order to return to the field that first called her over a decade ago: student affairs.

  • No, I am not an RA: My Life as a Student Affairs Leader Under 40

    Presented by: Fran'Cee Brown-McClure, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, Union College

    The presenter will share her experiences being a young leader under 40 in student affairs. This presenter will focus on microaggressions regarding age, working with multiple generations, and navigating age perceptions from the entire campus community. The presenter will share helpful information that gives tips to new professionals and provides helpful feedback to community members who are unsure about how to interact with the young leaders on their campus

  • University Fitness Centers: How to be Accessible to Students of All Capabilities, Bodies, and Health

    Presented by: Taylor Wallace, Graduate Assistant, DePaul University

    University gyms, while often open to all the student population, are built and targeted for those who are both physically capable of exercise and feel welcomed to participate in a fitness center without judgment. The presenter will dive deeper into the need to make fitness centers in higher education centers accessible to those with physical disabilities, such as wheelchair bound, blind, deaf; as well as those who do live with a cognitive disability not typically showcased in the health and wellness industry. By ensuring access for every student, the university then invests in a students' health and wellness in a whole, holistic way that immediately transfers back to the academic side of higher education.

Session Block III

Tuesday, March 31 | 9:00 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.
  • Empowering Students through Purpose in Life

    Presented by: Luis Gutierrez Aladro, Academic Provost, Universidad Tecmilenio

    Having a purpose in life is related to living longer and happier. A person who knows where to go, will take decisions accordingly. Since 2013, we have been teaching our students how to state a purpose in life and develop the competencies to achieve it. We created our own rubric to measure it as well as scientifically proven instruments. I will share our experience helping more than 60,000 students across 29 campuses in Mexico.

  • Let's Talk About It: Womxn of Color in Leadership

    Presented by: Eena Singh, Assistant Director, New York University

    The speaker will highlight the importance of having womxn of color in leadership in higher education. There will be a video presented to attendees, which will include testimonies from students and other professionals who have worked with and/or been supervised by womxn of color and how their leadership has positively impacted their experience. The speaker will then discuss data and statistics about the lack of representation in key leadership roles and how we can uplift and support womxn of color so that they can reach leadership roles in higher education.

  • SA GPS: How Research & Assessment Can Move the Field Forward

    Presented by: Sarah McDowell-Shupp, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Office of Student Conduct, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

    This SA Speaks session targets an all-important and sometimes forgotten topic in Student Affairs: empirical research. Utilizing the last decade of peer-reviewed student conduct research, the presenter will illustrate the incredible gains in evidence-based practices and astounding gaps that still remain in the literature, as well as what we should be doing about it. Attendees will gain insight into the how and why research has lasting impacts on how we serve our students.

  • They Got Fired and Told Me About It, Here’s What I Learned

    Presented by: Jeff Strietzel, Doctoral Candidate, Baylor University

    Whether they were “fired” or “decided to spend more time with family,” most of us know someone who has lost their job. Some never “get back on track.” Others might say it was “a blessing in disguise.” Jeff Strietzel interviewed 37 higher education administrators to explore how they experienced and navigated job loss. What he learned might change the ways you view your work.

  • What’s in a Name?: The Importance of Pronouncing Names Correctly

    Presented by: Zaragosa "Mito"Diaz-Espinoza, Associate Director, Civic Learning Initiatives, Academy for Leadership Development, Baylor University

    The presenter will share a personal narrative of the power of correctly pronouncing people's names and the impact of having a unique name. The mispronunciation of a person's name can magnify feelings of not belonging especially for those from underrepresented populations such as low-income, first-generation, non-white, or post-traditional learners, to name a few. The presenter will also share suggestions and techniques we can use as student affairs professionals to try and honor people's names.

View 2019 SA Speaks

Below are videos from the 2019 edition of SA Speaks:


SA Unscripted

The NASPA 2020 Conference Leadership Committee is excited to launch a new and compelling addition to its SA Speaks program, SA Unscripted. The goal of this new session is to invite the attendees to be a part of an intimate conversation between two student affairs professionals on a particular topic of relevance to the conference theme or our current professional landscape. SA Unscripted sessions are meant to be a conversation, not a debate, with a level of intentionality, engagement, and authenticity to help audience members engage with the topic and continue the conversations with their colleagues beyond the session. Around 60 minutes in length, the sessions are designed to highlight various voices of professionals in conversation with their colleagues. There will be an opportunity for audience members to engage in short Q&A after the conversation.