I returned from my conference late Tuesday night and going back to work has been a little rough…ugh. Work has been so so busy and I’ve had a hard time just getting back into the swing of things. Anyway I’m here and ready to blog!
Three words…I LOVE DENVER!!! That city is just awesome and I’m almost ready to move there! I got off the plane and was greeted to RAIN and 42* temps. So delightful! No joke, it was such a pleasure to get away from the warm temps in San Jose, CA and be in a place that actually feels like fall. It was pretty easy getting out of the airport and catching my shuttle into downtown. Got all checked into the hotel (only three took three rooms-don’t ask) and then I was off to eat and explore a little.
I headed to Denver early for my conference so that I could attend OPI (Orientation Professional Institute). This was 2.5 day workshop designed for professionals new to orientation and transition services with 0-2 years of experience with direct programmatic oversight. We covered topics such as developing mission and goals; assessing campus realities and politics; program design and planning; staffing, training, and supervision; identifying campus resources; and evaluation and assessment. Since grad school I have always wanted to participate in OPI and I am so glad that I did. It was such a rewarding experience and I got to meet so many fabulous individuals! Not to mention working and talking with some top faculty members that led OPI. These folks are so inspiring and people I hope to aspire to be like.
During one of our long lunch breaks, a few OPI folks and I headed over to the capitol to walk around. Located at the capitol is a step that reads “One Mile Above Sea Level.” So totally cool! We had to take a group picture and individual ones with the sign. Denver is regarded as the Mile High City since its height is one mile – 5,280 feet – above ocean level. Can you believe that? Kinda hard to imagine.
I was so excited once my SJSU peeps and Emily got into town! Friday night (10/23) was our first night out exploring downtown Denver. We walked along the 16th Street Mall which is awesome. The mile-long, pedestrian friendly Mall is packed with shopping, restaurants and attractions.The 16th Street Mall is considered the “heart” of the city. Free electric shuttle buses travel up and down the Mall, stopping on every corner. You can hop on and hop off, or just walk it like we did. Either way this downtown area is really superb!
For dinner, we ate at 5280 Burger Bar. OMG so good and delicious! One of my students suggested we eat there and I’m so glad we did. Hit the spot!
Saturday 10/24 was the last day of OPI. Here is the entire OPI class of 2015 as well as my foundation group. Shout out to Jamie’s group!! Seriously some of the most amazing people I have ever met! It was such a pleasure to spend 2.5 days with these folks! I know that we will stay in touch and I can’t wait to see everyone next year at the OPI reunion! Feeling really thankful to have a good group of colleagues that I can reach out too. Keep doing good work!
After OPI was over I met Emily, Nancy and Lauren and we headed to Red Rocks! Emily rented a car and we headed out of the city. Going to Red Rocks was the BEST.DECISION.EVER! Colorado is beautiful, but OMG Red Rocks was something else!!!!! I was like a kid in a candy store!!! Beyond excited to be visiting and secretly hoping DMB would show up haha.
For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge DMB fan and have always wanted to see them play at Red Rocks. DMB recorded Live at Red Rocks on 8.15.95. It was then released to the public on October 28, 1997. Tim Reynolds was a guest guitarist during this performance (he’s now a full member of the band). Love me some Tim! Live at Red Rocks was the first of many live releases by DMB. Interesting fact…this release has so far been the band’s most successful live release to date!! It’s still on my bucket list to see them play at Red Rocks (the Gorge in WA too) and I know we will make it happen. For a little preview of DMB Live at Red Rocks, check this out!
Red Rocks has an awesome museum that was fun to check out. Of course I was searching for DMB and I found them listed on the wall. I also learned that the Beatles played there in 1964. We had fun walking around the museum and then walking all the way down to the stage. I felt like such a kid being so excited haha! I stood on the stage where so many amazing musicians have played!!!! Ahhhhh!
On our way to the Performing Arts Center for the official conference opening, we walked by the Denver Convention Center and found this big blue bear! This guy is 40 ft. tall and peers into the Convention Center creating a sense of fun and playfulness. The big bear was created by a local artist, Lawrence Argent and was installed in 2005. Gotta get a picture of the bear!
Saturday night was the opening reception for the annual NODA conference, so we got all dressed up! Looking good ladies! The reception was held downtown at the performing arts center which was really beautiful. There were so many stations of food and fun things to eat. Great way to kick off the start of the conference!
#NODA2015 I’m ready for you!!! Love all the decorations for the conference. The planning committee did a really good job! Everything was so organized and easy to navigate. The conference had 1,000+ attendees, but it was always easy to get around, find your room and attend sessions. I don’t think any of my sessions ever got too full which was really nice. Way to go planning committee!
The first morning of the conference started off with a welcome from Dr. George Kuh. I remember my first semester of grad school in my foundations class we had to do a project on someone who was considered a pillar in the profession…this guy was on the list! I was totally nerding out during his entire talk. Where are my other PASA peeps at?!?!
After Dr. Kuh’s welcome I headed to the first education session which I was actually going to be PRESENTER!! This conference had a few professional bucket list items for me. One was to attend OPI, which I am so glad that I did. Second was to present at a national conference!!! Waaahooooo!
Emily and I presented on how to effectively serve our out of state students and used SJSU’s first off-site orientation in Hawaii as an example. I was so honored to be representing SJSU, presenting with Emily and feeling so accomplished! Our presentation went really well and we had a great turn out (about 25 people). People also seemed really interested in the work we were doing at SJSU. I hope we can continue to build that off-site orientation and keep going to Hawaii.
Presenting at a national conference is something that I have always wanted to do and I feel so excited and proud of myself for accomplishing this! I hope to continue to attend NODA inthe future and to keep presenting! Nothing can stop me now! Thank you again to my co-presenter Emily, I couldn’t have done it without you!
One thing that I loved about NODA was being able to meet so many new people but also reconnecting with other friends/colleagues! Here I am with my friend Heather who now works that UC Riverside. We first met at UCSB and were on O-Staff together! Small world! It was great seeing/catching up with her. Go Gauchos!
During the conference there were several panel discussions that were really fantastic. The Career Advancement Panel was excellent and featured two OPI faculty members that I got to know earlier (Marcus Langford and Jeanine Ward Roof). I learned so much about career advancement and felt so inspired by these individuals. The big take away was to “do good work” and when you think you have accomplished that then it’s time to move on. So powerful. I also attended the Transition Summit. Wow! This was unbelievable. This session had key players from across the field of higher education to discuss issues in transition for students on our campuses. The last panel I attended was the Women in Leadership Panel #NODAwomenlead. I loved hearing these women speak about leadership and also their experience as being a women in the field of higher education. It was great that they kept things real and didn’t try to sugar coat anything. Again, I felt so incredibly inspired by these amazing women. I really hope to some day be on a panel like this talking to professionals about my own journey.
For our last night in Denver, Lauren and I ate at 5280 Burger Bar again and then walked all over downtown. We ended up at Union Station which was awesome! The train station has been completely re-done and includes a hotel, bar/restaurant and a few other shops. How cool would it be to stay at a train station?
On our last day in Denver, Lauren and I skipped out of the last education session and headed over to Capitol Hill and Congress Park. We had another gorgeous day so we took advantage of the good weather and explored outside. We both love to take pictures so there was a lot of that. We took a few more pictures on the “one mile above sea level” step and then took a quick tour of the capitol building. After our little outing we headed back to the hotel for the conference brunch/wrap up.
I was sad to see the conference come to an end especially since I had such an amazing time. Participating in OPI was a big highlight, but I still really enjoyed attending the entire conference. Over the 7 days I was there I felt like I learned so much and got reconnected to my profession if that makes sense. I feel so thankful for the opportunity to have checked off a few professional bucket-list items as well! I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in Indy and staying connect with my new colleagues.
Hope you all have been doing well! TGIF