Author: Maigan L. Larsen, Wittenberg University
As I sip coffee this morning from my favorite NACWAA coffee cup I’m proud to realize that I’ve now been a part of NACWAA for 9 months and 28 days! I think it’s quite charming as well that I subconsciously reached into my cupboard this morning and chose this particular coffee cup before sitting down to write about my experience attending the NACWAA National Convention last year for the first time. Once again the sight of NACWAA’s empowering logo and the vibrant green and blue colors strike a chord this morning, as they always do, and remind me of how grateful I am for this organization that inspires me to be a better administrator every day.
I was thrilled that the 2013 National Convention kicked off in beautiful San Diego, California with educational breakouts (one of my favorite agenda items). Members were given the choice to choose among three relevant topics and hear from panelists who were professionals in that specific area. I chose the educational breakout topic I wanted to learn more about and quickly found a seat in the designated room. When the panel completed their portion of questions from the moderator, members were given the opportunity to ask the panelists questions. Of course I had questions, but I was so intimidated by the women in the room that I decided to sit back. One by one the women in the audience stood up and confidently asked their well-worded questions to the panel. An unexpected, but great lesson in public speaking might I add! Near the end of the session a woman was chosen from the audience to ask her question and I quickly realized that the woman was my soon to be mentor for the 2013 NACWAA Mentor Program, Joeleen Akin, Athletic Director at Agnes Scott College. Immediately after standing up Joeleen comically and confidently let it be known that she in no way needed a microphone. The room erupted into laughter, and little did she know in that moment how strong she was being for all those women like myself who had let intimidation get the best of them. Joeleen’s question would be answered and mine was going to go unanswered. Before we had even begun our year long mentor and mentee relationship, she had taught me one of my first lessons as an administrator, to be confident and strong. I made a promise to myself in that moment that I was going to be stronger. NACWAA was providing me this amazing opportunity where mentoring and networking experiences were plentiful, but I was in control of seizing those moments for myself and I needed to be intentional with my time at the convention.
Late that afternoon, NACWAA members gathered in the Grand Ball Room for the much anticipated session “Lessons on Leaning In, Part 1” with Debi Hemmeter, the co-founder of Lean In. I was awestruck. I couldn’t believe the caliber of women that were coming to speak at the convention. I felt so fortunate in that moment that I was a part of something that was bigger than myself. The session focused on encouraging women to pursue their passions and to change the global conversation amongst women from what we can’t do to what we can do. Debi was a rock start like all of the other women in the ballroom, and I realized I was no longer intimated as I was in the first session…I was proud. I was hearing her “Lean In” story and starting to hear the stories of the women around me. Listening to the “Lean In” stories I no longer heard what I hadn’t accomplished thus far in my career, I was now hearing what women as a whole have accomplished for one another.
My second day at the convention kicked off early with the 6:15 a.m. NIKE Training Club outside on the Bayview Lawn! An hour long cardio session was literally and figuratively breathtaking as I watched the sunrise over the San Diego bay. The experience truly demonstrated NACWAA’s dedication to its members and their personal development.
The rest of the morning was filled with stories from remarkably successful women sharing their experiences about facing adversity in their profession. Members first joined “the Julies” (Julie Hermann, Athletic Director at Rutgers University, and Julie Roe Lach, former NCAA VP of Enforcement) at 8:00 a.m. for discussion about remaining authentic through difficult times and that quickly transitioned into the Lifetime Achievement, Legacy & Honor Awards Luncheon. Each of the women had important and inspiring stories to share. They were all trailblazers in our profession and had weathered difficult times. They came out on top however because they were resilient. Each of the women were resilient during tough times not only because they were strong, but because they had other women advocating on their behalf and inspiring them to rebound!
The truth, like most other things, is that one will get out of NACWAA what one puts in…and I’m going all in for the 2014 National Convention.
- When I choose what educational breakout I want to go to, I’ll be mindful to learn from more than just the panelists. What strengths do I admire about those around me? How can I apply them to myself in order to be a better administrator?
- After an educational breakout comes to an end I’ll make sure to “Lean In” and introduce myself to the panelist whose demeanor I appreciate. What could possibly go wrong by telling someone I appreciate them?
- I’ll truly listen to the passions of the women I meet. Do I have the ability or connections to help them fulfill their passions?
- I’ll take advantage of the special programs that NACWAA offers. Who knows…maybe I’ll get the chance to see the sun rise in a new state.
- I’ll listen to the stories of the trailblazers in our profession and make sure I tell them how much I appreciate their leadership.
- I’ll forge connections with my peers and dedicate myself to inspiring them throughout their own careers.
I’m so thankful for NACWAA and the staff that never fails to deliver its mission. My first National Convention in 2013 inspired me to be strong, passionate about what I do, and resilient in many ways. I can hardly wait to see what the 2014 National Convention has in store for me and all of the other women who are NACWAA!
This picture is of Maigan the morning before convention began and remains a great memory for her to this day
You can read more about the 2014 Nation Convention here and further information on registration, hotel & travel, and programming. If you are interested in the 2014 NACWAA Mentor Program applications are now open!