Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Graduate Membership

This week the annual NASPA member survey went out to our entire mailing list and as I was sorting through auto responses and undeliverable messages, I reflected on what being a member of the association means as a graduate student. I have to admit that I became a member in January because I knew I was going to the annual conference in Boston and as a member, you get such a good deal on registration. Although I had a vague sense of what being a member meant to established professionals in the field, I didn't really have any idea of what being a graduate member included.

Beyond the annual conference, NASPA membership provides a whole host of benefits for graduate students to take advantage of. Here are a few of my favorites:

Publications: Headed up by Melissa Dahne, the publications department puts out a variety of journals, books, and internet resources. Although they are great resources for research, the journals and e-sources also provide an opportunity to dive into writing and publishing. The marketing and communications staff at NASPA encourage grad students to submit articles. So, if you've done some research and want to get a jump start on getting published, send it in. Otherwise, stop by the bookstore and find some new reading.

Knowledge Communities: Known as KC's around here, knowledge communities provide an opportunity for smaller groups of NASPA members to gather on a common topic of interest, generally with an identity or professional issue focus. For me, being able to get grounded in an identity based KC at the conference was very helpful. It was exciting to see the work that the Women in Student Affairs (WISA) KC has put into the new Journal About Women in Higher Education. I also had a great time meeting with the New Professionals and Graduate Students (NPGS) KC and was glad to meet other first-timers. I would highly recommend getting in touch with your KC, either at the regional or national level.

Professional Development Opportunities: Aside from the national conference, NASPA hosts and co-sponsors several smaller conferences, drive-ins, and workshops throughout the year. These events offer opportunities to network in your region, spend a few days focusing in on a particular issue or area of interest, or tackle a current challenge. I am particularly interested in the Multicultural Institute, which happens every other year (slated to occur next in December 2009). Take a look around the NASPA website to learn about all the great offerings.

These are just a few of the resources that NASPA offers grad students. I encourage you to take full advantage of your membership and if you have any questions or want me to highlight some of your favorites, leave a comment.

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