by REBECCA KIELBASA
Tiffin University sent four Student Affairs members to the 2020 Ohio College Personnel Association Conference in Columbus.
The conference took place on Jan. 30 and 31, and had approximately 185 attendees. Over the course of two days each person was able to attend eight, one hour long sessions that range from conflict management techniques to finding the meaning in Student Affairs work, and LGBTQ+ inclusion and awareness on campus. The selection of sessions to attend was endless. There were also mock interviews and resume building workshops.
Jacob Simon, Associate Dean of Students and Student Affairs Title IX Deputy Coordinator, and Nicholas La Torre, Assistant Director of Student Conduct and the Area Coordinator for the Downtown Neighborhood, accompanied Rayanne Leake and Rebecca Kielbasa to the Ohio College Personnel Association (OCPA) Conference to represent Tiffin University and gather techniques and knowledge to better Residence Life and First Year Experience on campus.
Leake and Kielbasa are Resident Assistants who work under Simon and La Torre. They were the only students the school sent to the conference, and were hand selected according to La Torre because, “They have a passion for student affairs and want to do it as a career, this is the first step in that journey.” La Torre is a large advocate for students moving into Student Affairs careers.
Of the TU attendees, they attended separate sessions from each other to gather the most information. Kielbasa’s favorite session was entitled The Music Project and it talked about utilizing music to make connections between students and the resident assistants, or amoung a staff, and identify prominent points and people in their life. Leake preferred the Ethical Decision Making Workshop on handling student conduct cases, “Not only was it beneficial as a Resident Assistant, but it was also helpful for the professionals a Tiffin.”
Leake would like to explore a career in student conduct or residence life, and Kielbasa is hoping to work in student engagement or first year experience.
La Torre’s favorite session of the conference was Resolving Conflict with Style where they dived into learning about the 5 core conflict styles and why each is used and when.
When reflecting on her time at the conference Leake said, “My favorite part about the conference was being able to network! I was able to connect with professionals already in the career I plan to get into. They gave me sound advice for my future, along with their contact information to stay in touch.”
Kielbasa said, “I would not have traded this opportunity for the world. I gained so much knowledge that I can use to benefit students at TU right now, not to mention being able to meet other university professionals from big and small schools gave me more perspective for TU.”
Plans are already in motion to implement some techniques and strategies for RA’s and professional staff to better Student Affairs that were learned at the conference.
La Torre, Simon, Kielbasa, and Leake are planning to attend the conference again next year, this time as presenters, and showcase what they implemented over the course of the year since the last conference.
The OCPA exists to advance student learning and development through personal development and networking opportunities.