Life has been full of so many fortunes and adventures of late that if they are not written down, the reflections and emotions certainly will fade. So, this is a promise to myself..I will update this blog, dare I say weekly..realistically biweekly. Let’s back up a few months..
In early June 2013, the University of Pittsburgh hosted the annual NACURH Conference. This International Residence Life gathering drew 3000+ students and directors to Pitt, bringing a swath of new ideas, culture, and enthusiasm. My responsibilities included photographing and filming the event for archive and promotional purposes, as well as general staffing. This seemingly menial responsibility became noteworthy enough to write about when I crafted a summary montage video from the 3 days worth of filming.
This was then played to the collective conference on the Peterson Event Center’s big screen during the closing. While this was special in itself, the true prize of the evening came when I saw the conference staff with tears rolling down their face as the video faded to black. The inherent emotions from the atmosphere coupled with the culmination of tireless yearlong work, made it fairly easy. However..the ability to create something with poignance so great that it can illicit such a powerful emotional response makes everything worth it. THIS is what it’s all about..THIS is why I do what I do..
NYC and NASPA
The train kept on rolling after the intense NACURH weekend. Pitt shipped me off to my magnet island, New York City. As if working the previous weekend’s conference wasn’t fun enough I found myself at John Jay College the following weekend for the NASPA II conference for Student Affairs Professionals.
While the development sessions proved interesting and insightful, the true reward of NASPA was found on the Spirit line cruise along the Hudson bay. Throughout the night I was able to network with Deans, Program Directors, and staff from many of the north eastern universities.
If I could narrow down the most rewarding thing I had the pleasure of doing during my time at Pitt, it without hesitation would be meeting the esteemed and beloved Frances Hesselbein, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, former CEO of the Girl Scouts of America, and CEO of Leader to Leader Institute (@ToServeIsToLive). The second after NASPA wrapped up I grabbed my gear from the hotel room and booked it over to Park Ave. I soon found myself waiting in an office with barely a square inch of open wall. Covering the walls were dozens of plaques, honorary doctorates, medals, and military and presidential photographs. While admiring her awards, Frances walked in and greeted me with one of the most genuine and heartfelt welcomes I’ve received in my life.
She has this splendid, ineffable way with people that you can’t help but always smile in her presence. Did I mention she’s 97 years old? We conducted the interview and every sentence that came out of her mouth was gold. After bonding over our shared connection to her native Johnstown, PA, the time came to move onto my next interview and she sent me off with a signed copy of her book. I was effusive beyond explanation for the mere opportunity to meet her, let alone to have 2 hours with her and a camera. Frances invited me back for breakfast the next time I am in New York; I full intend on taking up this offer.