posted on December 01, 2005 01:10
Bonnie Alberts, Black Hills State University
After advising for several years, in 2000 I had the opportunity to attend the NACADA Summer Institute in Lexington, Kentucky as an SI Scholarship recipient. I am not sure that in the telling, I can do justice to the experience and the difference it made in my professional life.
I learned to advise with the help of an outstanding mentor in the early ‘90s. Listening to this colleague and reading what I had time for, I developed a sense of the foundations and guiding principles, heavily influenced by my own experiences as a student and by my own values. Attending meetings and conferences gave me opportunities to hear from others and to share conversations about our advising perspectives.
I knew that NACADA provided a very clear and legitimate foundation for advising practices that was rooted in theory and research, but I had been picking it up bit-by-bit, in a way that left me feeling fragmented and uncertain about what I thought I knew, and knew I believed!
My mentor had always encouraged me to attend the Summer Institute, but my supervisors at that time were not able to fund it, and I could not afford to cover the expenses myself. The scholarship to attend made a statement of NACADA’s faith in me, which influenced my institution to follow with the remaining expenses.
Attending the NACADA Summer Institute was just what I needed on several levels. The presentations laid out the foundations of advising with exceptional clarity—both in theory and in practice. As the institute faculty made their presentations, I came to the realization that I had known much more than I realized. The fragments of understanding I had collected were quite comprehensive, and what I needed was to get them organized and to recognize some correlations I had overlooked. The presentations helped me complete the picture and adjust my perspective.
Formalizing my grasp on the theory, I came away from those presentations with much more confidence in my skills and the legitimacy of my own practices. I had an unexplained history of success with my students, and after the Institute, I understood why.
The work sessions with my group were more difficult for me. The year I attended the Institute, I had been in a work environment that was fraught with scrutiny and criticism that drove away two good co-workers. I was hanging on, but I felt quite powerless to initiate any action. Although I was no powerhouse for my own causes, in those sessions I found that I was still creative and insightful and was able to help my group members develop their plans. It was another boost to my confidence.
Out of those associations, I connected with two colleagues with whom I spent the evenings walking all over Lexington. Great exercise—great conversations—great pleasure in those connections. For some time after, we consulted with one another and provided valuable access to resources.
Essentially, I came away from the NACADA Summer Institute with increased knowledge and understanding of my field and with more confidence in my intellect, my insights, my judgment, and my professional abilities. I made friends; I expanded my network of professional colleagues; I found time to go into myself and come out stronger. The experience has served me well in my practice with students, in the leadership and creativity I have provided on my campuses, and in the advancement of my professional placement.
For these gifts, I have been eternally grateful to NACADA for sponsoring my tuition to attend the NACADA Summer Institute.
Last summer I encouraged my current director to attend the Institute. In addition to the gains of his own experiences, he returned with a better understanding of my motives and actions, and with an apparent appreciation for how I work with students and my vision for this campus.
Black Hills State University
Cite this article using APA style as: Alberts, B. (2005, December). NACADA academic advising Summer Institute scholarship recipient reflects on her experience. Academic Advising Today, 28(4). [insert url here]