NACAC’s Guiding the Way to Inclusion (GWI) conference is aimed at secondary, postsecondary, and CBO college admission professionals committed to championing the needs of diverse students within the college admission process. The annual gathering offers educational sessions regarding multicultural recruitment and campus inclusion while also providing a shared space for like-minded professionals to reflect on current issues and share best practices related to equity in higher education. Small group sessions, roundtable discussions, and networking opportunities provide avenues for both personal and professional growth.
Scott Hillman, Senior Admissions Counselor, with The University of Oklahoma reflects on the comradery. While Scott’s desire to attend another virtual conference was low, having the opportunity to participate in this specific conference was one he did not want to miss. He wanted to take this chance to hear from other professionals and see what they are doing to create access in their associations and their communities. “As part of the conference, participants were placed into small groups to have a discussion each day. It was these small group discussions that I found to be the most valuable part of the conference. Connecting with colleagues across the US and having healthy, important, meaningful discussions was incredibly worthwhile. However, it left me with a feeling and a reminder that I wasn’t expecting, but one that is clear and purposeful. We simply cannot go about this work alone.”
Chevonne Totten-Garner, Assistant Dean for Recruitment and Admissions from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, College of Fine & Applied Arts says “The GWI conference this year was a great opportunity for self-reflection and a sense of renewal of my own personal commitment of being a resource to the students we serve…especially those from underserved communities. From the sessions to the small groups, a common question kept coming to mind “what little things give you light?” Hearing the opening keynote student activist highlight her path to advocacy gives hope that our students are a light. Hearing colleagues discuss the inequities and bias in our profession provides a glimpse of light that we are at a pinnacle point of change. Hearing how our community-based organizations are laying solid foundations for students to find their way showcases how our work together keeps barriers low and pathways to success lit. So what little things give me light? The connection. The connection to our students. The connection to each other. The connection to our profession. The connection we all have personally and professionally to serve.”
Christian Brown, Associate Director of College Counseling, from Beacon Academy was offered a grant to attend GWI as part of an initiative of IACAC to support leadership development for co-chairs of CAP, IAS, and the Equity and Access Ad-Hoc committee. Before receiving the offer, she was not very familiar with GWI programming. After researching the conference, she decided to take advantage of the opportunity to increase her knowledge of DEI topics and use it as a way to identify points for growth within her own knowledge around these topics. She states, “Although a few months have passed since GWI, I see the difference that this conference has made in my work since attending. I now take in daily knowledge around topics of higher education. I more intently view my work in my school with students and IACAC with a lens of equity. I look deeper into systems and processes related to who they are benefiting and who they are not. I am working to understand the privilege I have not only as a professional but also as a citizen and try to be more impactful in using whatever privilege I have to move this work forward. Overall, GWI reminded me to adjust my lens and make sure to check it often for blemishes or blinders.”
Check out GWI for next year, or click here for how to apply for a grant.