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Kiana Y. Shiroma, Rayna Tagalicod, and Niki Libarios, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Region 9 Conference graphic.jpgBeyond flowing waterfalls, white sandy beaches, fiery lava flows, and lush rain forests, Hawai‘i has a beautiful native language with words full of meaning that apply directly to academic advising.  The well-recognized Hawaiian word “aloha,” for instance, encompasses many characteristics that would be helpful to advisors in order to establish rapport with others and build productive academic advising environments.  In Hawaiʻi, the word “aloha” is used in many ways such as friendly greetings, fond farewells, and expressions of love.  However, the word “aloha” has even greater significance; it is a way of life and it holds within it all one needs to know to interact and relate with others in a positive manner.  Thus, the theme of this past year’s 2015 NACADA Region 9 Conference was “Advising with Aloha.”  The following Hawaiian words and meanings were embedded in the acronym of “aloha” to capture the essence of aloha in advising and representing the mission statement of the conference:

A—Ala: to rise up, arise, get up, come forward
L—Lōkahi: working with unity, harmony
O—ʻOiaʻiʻo: truthful honesty, genuine
H—Haʻahaʻa: humility, humble, modest
A—Ahonui : patient

  • We want our students to seek academic advising and to develop during their undergraduate experience (Ala).
  • In academic advising, we need to network and collaborate effectively with students and colleagues from this state, other states, and around the globe (Lōkahi).
  • When we advise students, we set achievable goals and reach responsible decisions while being authentic as we communicate (ʻOiaʻiʻo).
  • As we relate to students and colleagues, we are respectful of one other (Haʻahaʻa).
  • We are calm and understanding with students and others (Ahonui).

These characteristics were exemplified through the various interactions at this conference as 437 colleagues gathered in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi from March 4th to 6th.  A Vice Chancellor from the University of Hawaiʻi System who attended the conference said, “What a wonderful conference you and your colleagues put together!  With the excellent program, amazing/superior organization, excitement of the participants, and every detail carefully attended to—it was very obvious that the event was a great, huge success!”

Region Conference getting acquainted.jpgThere were over 200 attendees who attended the nine pre-conference workshops.  The Orientation Session for First-Time Attendees with JP Regalado (NACADA President), Charlie Nutt (NACADA Executive Director), Valarie Burke (NACADA Region 9 Chair), and Craig McGill was widely popular.  Attendees especially liked the speed dating exercise (pictured on the right), which was used to get to know other first-time attendees as well as the NACADA leaders who ran the session.

The welcome reception started off the conference with a bang!  Advisors were greeted by JP along with traditional Hawaiian music, chanting, and a hula performance by the band, Lalamilo.  The event ended with the celebration of the birthday of two attendees, Megumi Makino-Kanehiro from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Elizabeth Wilcox from the University of California–Berkeley.  The welcome reception was well-attended and infused excitement and enthusiasm that lasted throughout the conference

Registrants shared their knowledge and learned about various topics in higher education during the morning breakfast that featured 10 posters and 63 concurrent sessions throughout the second and third days.  There was a wide array of topics covered that allowed advisors to further their professional development.  In addition, attendees took advantage of the numerous opportunities to network with colleagues.

Charlie Nutt.jpgThe keynote lunch/business meeting drew seemingly all participants as the ballroom almost reached maximum capacity.  Keynote speaker Charlie Nutt (pictured to the left) inspired everyone as he spoke about the significance of advisors and the direction of higher education, while challenging us to gain different perspectives though sharing about his own hot air balloon experience!   Outgoing Region 9 Chair Valarie Burke recognized the 2015 NACADA Award recipients of the region and nation.

All things considered, “Advising with Aloha” was the perfect theme for this conference.  This event provided opportunities for attendees to learn new ways to advise students with aloha.  Colleagues from both the same and different postsecondary institutions were able to establish and strengthen their aloha for one another.

As registration opens for the 2016 region conferences, we provide these five tips to help attendees make the most out of their conference experience:

  1. Register for the conference and reserve your flights and room early!  Regional conference attendance is steadily increasing.  In fact, last year made NACADA history for the highest attendance across all regional conferences.   As such, make sure you make your travel arrangements far in advance as possible to secure your flights and room.  Do not forget to also register before the early registration deadline to take advantage of lower fees.  Last, be aware of the travel awards (submission requirements and deadlines) your region offers for assistance with costs.
  2. Read through the program and plan which sessions, events, meetings, and social gatherings you want to attend.  You do not want to look back at the conference and regret not attending a presentation or event!  If there are events that have time conflicts, try contacting the presenter(s) of the session you missed for their presentation slides and handouts or check the conference website for uploaded presentations.
  3. Take notes, ask questions, and do not be afraid to speak with the presenters after the sessions you attended.  Being proactive at presentations will help you remember what you gained from the events and address any questions or concerns you may have about the content.  Networking with the presenter also opens the line of communication if you need to contact them or ask questions in the future when you are trying to implement what you have learned.
  4. Network, network, network!  There are hundreds of attendees at regional conferences from various institutions not only in your region but from other areas as well.  Take advantage of any opportunity to network with colleagues.  Interactions may be formal in a session or informal such as waiting in line at the bathroom.  There is no telling which connection may help you in the future, so do not be afraid to speak to that stranger sitting next to you in a session.  Do not forget to bring and exchange business cards with individuals with whom you connect.
  5. The week after the conference, follow up with people you met to exchange thoughts.  Taking action post-conference will help continue the relationships you established and kick-start the great ideas you gleaned from the event.

As Region 9 members, the authors are looking forward to the next region conference to continue sharing aloha with peers and students by gaining new knowledge, reconnecting with colleagues, and creating bonds with new associates!  Thank you to Sean Nemeth and Donald Scott of Brandman University and the rest of the 2016 conference planning committee for all of their hard work!  Check the NACADA website for more information about all the 2016 Region Conferences.

Kiana Y. Shiroma, PhD
Director, Pre-Health/Pre-Law Advising Center
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
[email protected]

Rayna Tagalicod, MEd
Academic Advisor, Mānoa Advising Center
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
[email protected]

Niki Libarios, PhD
Academic Advisor, College of Education
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
[email protected]

Cite this article using APA style as: Shiroma, K.Y., Tagalicod, R., & Libarios, N. (2015, December). Let advising with aloha live on: Reflections on the 2015 region 9 conference. Academic Advising Today, 38(4). Retrieved from [insert url here]


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