A couple of weeks ago I had the fantastic experience of attending SUNY Empire State College’s 10th annual Student Academic Conference (StAC). I was super excited to attend this event because life can sometimes seem so isolated; as a student with the Center for Distance Learning (CDL). StAC was the perfect way to cut loose of the monotony of my studies, and spend some time connecting with ESC faculty and staff, the school, and fellow students.
This year’s conference was held at the Wolf Road Holiday Inn of Albany, New York. Which was a good 4 1/2 hour drive from my duplex way up in the North Country. To cut down on the cost of travel my wife and I decided it would be better to get offsite lodging. So to relieve me of some of the stress of travel my Love booked me a half price room at the Howard Johnson located a brief 6 minutes away from the conference. In my experience lodging at a Howard Johnson is always a little adventure all by itself. In this case my room was on the bottom floor, and had an all glass front facing the parking lot-with a large curtain for privacy. I’ve never quite seen a layout like that before so I was a little surprised by the sight.
Conference (Day One)
While in attendance of StAC I had the oppurtunity to enjoy a night out with faculty, and fellow students from across the state. I was a late arrival due to the distance I had to travel to make the conference, and the late start I had getting out of the house. When I arrived though I was greeted by the scent of hot food, the cheer of cocktails, and the energy of a DJ fueled danced floor; it made for a great hello!!!
I took a little time to wander around some, and take in the fun being had in the room, then introduced myself to some beautiful people I had (until this time) only met online; including Chancellor’s Award winners Sandra Barkevich and Anita Brown. We chit chatted over all things ESC, funny happenings in our life, and musing over this past graduation ceremony (their memories were a pleasant peek into my near future). This continued late into the night (meaning about 10 O’clock, to clarify things for any twenty something who may be reading this; this is what you have to look forward to). Then we each retired for the evening to prepare for the academic portion of our stay, which was scheduled to begin bright and early the next day.
Conference (Day Two)
Day two of StAC was decidedly more formal. I woke up in the morning and hurriedly checked out of the Howard Johnson. My first order of business, getting a belt; my pants had to stay up if I was going to enjoy myself at the event. I sprinted to Kohl’s as fast as my family’s Ford Escape could legally drive. Then breezed through the front door giving the not so enthusiastic greeter a courteous “Hello.” as I passed by. I was a man on a mission, but alas, there was no belts available in my considerably low price range. In a stroke of genius, and desperation I opted to wear my brown fleece half zipped over my dress shirt all day. After all, how hot could it really get in the meeting rooms? Besides, a little sweat was a small price to pay for disguising the fact I had a black belt on with brown shoes. No one would be the wiser. A brief stop at McDonald’s for breakfast (a treat I hadn’t had in years) and I arrived back at my destination.
Having arrived too late to register the night before, I first stopped by the registration tables to pick up my name tag and grab bag. After browsing the information tables upstairs I made my way down to the President’s Town Hall. ESC’s President, Dr. Merodie Hancock guided the attendees through an insightful question/answer segment aimed at “blue skying” issues faculty and students were seeing across the college’s footprint. It gave me a fresh perspective on the life, and evolution of the college.
Following the Town Hall I had the oppurtunity to sit in on a fantastic presentation put on by Felipe Sostre (a student at the School of Graduate Studies); entitled Faith, Feminism and Social Justice. I then ate my fill and listened to a fantastic keynote speech by ESC Alum Cristy Dwyer.
I spent the rest of the afternoon with ESC faculty discussing the finer points of course development, life as a CDL student, and in a 20 minute face-to-face with Tom Mackey (Dean of the Center for Distance Learning).
I had a terrific experience at the StAC event! I walked away from the experience much more informed about the happenings around the college, inspired, and with a much deeper sense of a relationship to the school. I’d highly recommend attending the event to any current student at SUNY Empire State College; from the Center for Distance Learning or elsewhere.
10th Anniversary Student Academic Conference Cover