Posted March 26, 2014 by Sara Drischler 

Reflect Before the Celebration

As we get ready to celebrate together in Orlando, there are many preparations to be made. Beyond making sure that all is situated for your absence at your home institution, securing a babysitter/dog sitter/house sitter, and packing attire, we also need to remember to prepare ourselves for the learning experience that is about to ensue! One of the best ways to do so is to reflect upon previous conference experiences, and think about the current state of your home institution and what you are looking to learn!

Below are reflections from ACUI members as they get ready to celebrate in Orlando next month!

New Professional
ACUI has been fundamental to my career ever since graduate school. As a graduate assistant, I was encouraged to attend the regional conferences, but I didn’t have the chance to attend an annual conference until last year in St. Louis. Being both a new professional and a newcomer, I was thrown into a world that was both incredibly exciting and greatly overwhelming. Luckily for me, I had colleagues from my institution, as well as those I knew well from regional events, to connect and engage with at the conference. I walked away from St. Louis exhausted but filled with wonderful ideas and motivation to make substantial changes at my new campus. Mostly, I walked away feeling that ACUI was truly a place that felt like a professional home.

For all of the 2014 newcomers, the annual conference will open your eyes in ways you could never imagine. You will meet people who all have the same passion and career interests as you. You will find yourself immersed with the best ideas, practices, and educational sessions you could ask for. You will laugh, compete, volunteer, and grow within your region as you battle for the regional title. And you will learn a lot about yourself—what interests you, what motivates you, and how you can challenge yourself each day. I encourage you to take advantage of each opportunity that appeals to you, whether it be volunteering at the conference or visiting a local institution, because it is these opportunities that might make the biggest impact on your experience.

All in all, get excited about your days spent in Orlando with ACUI. I can guarantee you will laugh hard, eat well, meet some great people and hopefully, learn a thing or two along the way!

Lauren Gentry, Coordinator, Special Programs, University Center & Guest Services
E.H. Hereford University Center, University of Texas–Arlington

Mid-Level Professional
The conference experience is all based on your perspective. Some go to the conference on a mission; some attend looking for networking. For me, I always look for networking opportunities with others from my region and communities of practice and find time to put a face to a name. One of the most satisfying parts of the conference is presenting an educational session. If I can leave the annual conference having taught one person something new, or one person having an a-ha moment, it’s a success!

And before I even leave campus, I have my schedule in my phone!

Mandi Bryson, Associate Director for Student Life Operations, Office of Student Life
Stern Student Center, College of Charleston

If you would like to get more out of your conference experience this year by writing for The Commons during the conference, whether it’s about keynotes, ACUI talks, educational sessions, networking, Career Center, or the community service project, please let us know! What better way to ensure that you are getting the full value of your experience and bringing home ideas to your union that seeing it in print? Email or for more details.
Sara Drischler

Sara Drischler is the Coordinator, Special Programs at University of Texas–Arlington.


A distinguishing element of our celebration in Orlando will be the presence of a far larger than normal group of union/activities veterans. Seek them out and talk with them. I think you'll come away enriched.
Comment posted 03/27/2014 5:03 PM
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