Energized, Motivated, Inspired … The NAGAP Afterglow

When I returned to work this week, I felt different. I sat at my desk, pulled out my notebook and wrote a list. This wasn’t really unusual. Typically, before ending my work, I write a list of to-do items to address the next day. But the list I wrote on this day was not simply a to-do list. Tasks were mixed with the names of larger projects. Initiatives were mixed with topics for further exploration. And mixed among all of these things were emotions. I literally wrote the following: energized, motivated, inspired, accomplish, motivate, inspire, energize, passion.

Reviewing this list raised questions. Why did I write these words? Why was this not my usual list of tasks? As for the words themselves, why were some repeated, though slightly modified?

It didn’t take me long to understand what was happening to me; after all, I had felt it before. I was under the influence — the influence of NAGAP.

Last week, I attended the annual conference of NAGAP, the Association of Graduate Enrollment Management. This year the conference was in Toronto, a city I had never visited. As soon as I walked into the Exhibit Hall, I practically bumped into a colleague. I had last seen her at the Christmas open house of a mutual friend. That exchange was followed by meeting two of NAGAP’s gems, Keith Ramsdell and Jeremiah Nelson, the president and vice-president of the association respectively. The two had joined me in presenting a webinar late last year. Our interactions had been entirely virtual prior to this in-person meeting.

Later, at the Welcome Reception, I re-connected with a fellow PAGAP member. She had also edited my article submission for the March 2019 issue of NAGAP’s Perspectives magazine. We chatted, wine glass in hand like two old friends finally having the opportunity to reconnect.

I’ll spare you the rest of my NAGAP interactions. Suffice to say, the examples I provided were repeated tenfold. Add to this the interactions I had with current Capture Higher Ed partners, those getting started with us, and those who wished to learn more. It was a sea of smiles, handshakes, hugs and well-wishes.

Then there was the knowledge sharing.

As I attended NAGAP sessions, I was in awe of the work of my colleagues — GEM practitioners focused on better recruitment, better enrollment, better student experience and better outcomes. The knowledge shared spanned a continuum from using GIS software in improving enrollment to tips on improving international recruitment in a low-cost way. The presenters were excited, the audience was engaged, learning was happening.

David Brooks, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times, has a new book, The Second Mountain. In it, he writes of the importance of emotional connection in attaining a sense of personal fulfillment. This is what I learned about myself while in Toronto. I learned that I am indeed a member of an amazing professional community that over time has provided for important emotional connections.

So, as I review the words I wrote (energized, motivated, inspired, accomplish, motivate, inspire, energize, passion), it is no longer a surprise that I placed them on paper. While in Toronto, I was energized, motivated and inspired. I left with my own mission to accomplish, a mission to motivate, inspire and energize others. This is my passion.

I am basking in the NAGAP afterglow, excited about the work ahead, and looking forward to next year’s conference.

See you in Orlando, friends!

By Jack Klett, Director of Graduate and Online Initiatives, Capture Higher Ed