By Brittany Duncan, York College of Pennsylvania
As I walked to the falls at 6:05 Thursday morning, I was feeling tired (I hadn’t had my coffee yet!), and overwhelmed by all of the thoughts running through my mind – still reflecting on the end of the academic year, ways to improve, and how I was going to manage to soak up all of the information EACE was going to provide!
Upon arriving at the falls a few minutes later, I had a pause in all of my jumbled thoughts as I stood and took in the scenery. I had a moment of peace, clarity, and reflection. I felt invigorated and excited to be standing there, taking in the beauty, and feeling lucky that I had been given the opportunity to travel to Niagara Falls as a recipient of the Professional Development Grant EACE awarded me. Conference-going is not new to me, but something felt different about EACE. It was a feeling of connectedness, an excitement that I hadn’t felt at previous large-scale conferences.
On my walk back (with a lot less noise going in in my head), I was refreshed and ready to take on the day. I think that’s one of the most important takeaways from the EACE experience as I reflect my walk to the falls and the rest EACE – REJUVENATION! Starting my position less than a year ago at York College in PA, I was excited to transition back in to the world of career development. It was a whirlwind fall semester, and an even faster spring semester – I was exhausted by the end! And not unlike my morning walk to the falls, with all of the chatter in my head, I had a revolving door of ideas in my brain on how I could do better, how I could make more impactful and meaningful connections with my students and YCP, and was I actually doing a good job? I was in search of some clarity, refreshing ideas, and the need to step outside of my own box. What better way to do that than attend EACE?
EACE provided me with sessions that challenged me to consider my approach to working with students, how I/we deliver our services, that how we advertise matters, and that it’s incredibly easy to fall in to our routines and traditional practices – and that it’s okay to do that, but it’s also okay to try new things! Also- shout out to Emily Merritt of the University of Connecticut for her “Top Ten Activities for your Career Counseling Toolkit” session! This fresh perspective on a variety of ways to engage and interact with my students will be extremely helpful moving forward, and made me even more excited for the year to come!
Progressing through the conference, my mind filled with possibility – but instead of feeling overwhelmed, I continued to feel rejuvenated (a few more walks to the falls didn’t hurt, either)! As I left EACE with some new connections and my color-coded conference notes, I think about how I can give back to EACE and how excited I am to be a part of the committees I signed up for. I’m looking forward to where this organization can take me, and how I can contribute. The ability to become immediately involved and pursue not only my professional development, but the development of EACE excites me. I’m ready to take my end of year reflections, the wealth of information I’ve gained, the connections I’ve made – and weave them all together to in my own unique way in order to continue to do the work that I enjoy and appreciate even more after attending EACE. So now, if I need a little pick-me-up, I’ll take a look at one of my many pictures of the falls and feel ready to accomplish great things. With a hot cup of coffee in hand, of course.
Brittany Duncan is an Assistant Director at York College of Pennsylvania’s Career Development Center. Brittany received an EACE Professional Development Grant to attend the 2017 EACE Conference in Niagara Falls, NY.