Todd Burrell delivered the following speech on May 4th at the Opening Session of the Annual Conference as candidate for President-Elect.
The year was 1994. The location was Decatur, Illinois. And, I was about to experience my first IACAC Annual Conference. I can remember the fear comparing it to the first day of moving into college. Would I meet anyone who would want to talk me? Would I know others based on my travels? Would I be able to learn more to take back to the office and more so, use in my recruitment of students? Thinking back, I even thought; what would I do at night? For this, I have to say little did I know just how much there was to do, but even more so how much I would learn just by sitting down and having a conversation with others in the local establishment at the hotel. I found out quickly IACAC members have mastered the art of having fun while still continuing the professional development. At the conclusion of my first conference, I drove home extremely excited to finish the current recruitment year and gear up for the next one. My enthusiasm was very high. I knew I wanted to get more involved.
Hello, and let me introduce myself. I am Todd Burrell, Director of Admissions, at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, IACAC member for 18 years, and one excited individual to have the possible opportunity to represent and lead this amazing association. Who would have thought? But you might be thinking: Who is he? Why this guy? Maybe right now, the only question you might be asking yourself is why are there wooden shoes on the podium. Well, my story begins in my hometown of Teutopolis, Illinois, and in T-Town (as we call it back home) a small town in south-central Illinois, our high school nickname is the Wooden Shoes. Unique; interesting; and even really are the words that maybe just came to your mind (that is describing the shoes, but they could be words used to explain me). The wooden shoes have been something I have carried with me throughout my years, and they are in many ways a symbol for me in what I do.
I come from a family that pushed college education; but also from parents who did not go to college. All my mom and dad wanted to know is that if I was going to spend the money to go to college, I better have a job when I graduated. Well, I completed my undergraduate years, and got the opportunity to enter the college admission profession. Little did I know how much this first role as an Admission Counselor would be the beginning steps to something so great; and so rewarding. I was hired in July of 1992 and just 2 weeks on the job, my boss sent me off to the IACAC Summer Institute. What an experience! And, this was something I have not forgotten as this photo still is on my desk as a remembrance of the support I received during those days on the north shore of Chicago. Here, I saw the profession at its best. Leaders in the association were taking their time to provide guidance and support to help me along in my career. I even remember individuals saying that one day, you, could be up here leading this association. Really? Not this guy from the home of the Wooden Shoes, but thanks for mentioning.
Now, as I stand before you as the candidate for President-Elect, I am humbled by being asked to do this. I will admit, I am anxious, just like my times before the Summer Institute and my first Annual Conference. How am I ever going to follow in the footsteps of the individuals I have seen up here for the past many years? I consider my time learning from others to be invaluable steps on my journey to this point.
I owe much to IACAC. The reason I am here today is because of this association. The reason I continue to be motivated by what I do is because of this association. And the reason I consider myself so fortunate to call so many my colleagues is because of IACAC. After much consideration only because I had to think could I really handle this role and do it well, I concluded that how could I not give back of my time to IACAC for all I have received.
Through my involvement on the national level, I have seen how others truly look to IACAC as the leaders in our profession. IACAC members have given countless hours to our profession on the local, state, and national level, and it is their involvement that has given us such a strong and respected reputation.
As you have heard my story, I ask that you share your story. Maybe your story is just beginning; maybe your story is ending here, but starting a new chapter in your life. All of us have something to share with others, and in our profession, the stories, to me, are what motivate me. By taking time to meet others; to listen to what they know; and by adding your own, we can continue to learn. And, for me, these stories provide the foundation for us to assist the students and families that we are called on to help each day.
I look forward to the challenges my new role will provide over the next years, and it is my hope that my “steps” are ones that can continue the momentum. We have done so much, but there is much more to do. And along the journey, we need to take time to reflect; share; and have fun. As one of my college roommates states all the time, and I quote, “You only get one chance to go around here; so you might as well go around having a whole lot of fun.” It is this motto that I strive for each day. Work hard, and play just as hard. In the end, all of us will have our own story to share and who knows, one day have the wonderful opportunity I have now to work with such great people and lead an association that has given me so much.
So, I look forward to putting on my “shoes”, and making the steps, no matter where they might lead me, to serve this association and you all, the members.