Honoring the Past, Treasuring the Present by EACE Conference 2016 Grant Recipient, Melissa Burgess
Thank you, EACE Grants Committee, for allowing me the opportunity to honor my past and treasure my present. The 2016 conference was uniquely special to me: just over a year ago, I left Philadelphia to return to my home state of New York and left behind a wonderfully supportive, compassionate, and intelligent network of colleagues. Returning to EACE this year, for me, felt like a homecoming. I was able to catch up with old friends and shake hands with new ones, and through conversation I found myself brimming with renewed passion for my work.
While grabbing a bite for lunch before the kick-off keynote, a gentleman approached my table to ask if guests seat themselves or if he needed to wait to be seated. A few minutes later, he asked if the restaurant provides a menu or if he needed to order at the counter. Sensing nerves and noticing a familiar blue and orange lanyard, I challenged my comfort zone (which prefers eating alone with a book to read) and did something we teach our students: I networked. I asked if he wanted to join me and he did. It was a small win for my introverted psyche.
In preparation for the conference, I had glanced through the workshop descriptions and marked down the seminars I planned on attending. It wasn’t even a question whether or not I would attend the opening keynote; I always did. So I skimmed the bios without paying a lot of attention. I’m glad I skimmed! I was eating lunch with Dr. Rob Bell, EACE’s opening keynote speaker! #celebritymoment
We chatted about EACE: what are some of the challenges we face? What are some of the things we most look forward to while attending our annual conference? The parade in Cleveland celebrating the Cavs’ first title win ever was playing on the cafe television and we talked about Lebron James and his crazy amazing career. We touched on the mental preparation required to achieve goals, collective goals like winning the first title for your sports team and individual goals like landing your first-choice internship. It was a down-to-earth conversation about real things, an easy connection to make and remember. In other words, it was networking at it best (and least scary!).
Upon returning to Cornell University, my new home, I am excited to offer creative thoughts on our future programming, share knowledge that I learned through workshops and keynotes, and bring personal anecdotes to my conversations with students. Thank you, EACE, for providing a space that encourages our past to mingle with our present and in doing so, empowers us to transfer knowledge, participate in brainstorming sessions, and accomplish personal growth milestones. #EACE16
Melissa Burgess is currently Assistant Director of Career Services for Industrial and Labor Relations students at Cornell University. Melissa’s background includes working for a community college in southern Maine, creating innovative career development programs at Cabrini College (now University!), and volunteering to teach kiddos in southern Peru. She earned a Bachelor’s in Communication and Psychology from the University at Buffalo and a Master’s in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania.