English Undergrad-Friendly Conferences

kboles150by Kelsey Hixson-Bowles
Student Advisor
Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS

I am a conference-going junkie. Seriously. I love presenting my research, hosting workshops, and traveling to different cities. The Sigma Tau Delta 2010 Convention in St. Louis was my first conference-like experience. For those of you who have been fortunate enough to attend our annual convention, you know what I mean when I say it is a great place to meet people you never knew you missed. Convention bonds English majors.

KelseyBlogPic1

Sigma Tau Delta members Hunter Gilson, Alicia Beeson, Kelsey Hixson-Bowles, and Rachel Smith explore the town during the Midwest Writing Center Association Conference in Chicago.

Convention is so much more than just a social experience. What I loved most about convention is also the part that made me search out other conferences: it is a concentration of ideas. It is a place to refresh your brain, gather new insights on your favorite author, reshape the way you have always thought about what qualifies as literature. As a writer, a reader, a feminist, and a thinker, I was interested in finding other conferences that engage in discussions beyond literature.

Like many of you I tutor writing. As a beginning tutor I thought, “Great, I can help people and enhance the marketability of my English skills.” The more I tutored and read about tutoring, the more I realized that there is a lot more to it than I originally thought. This was exciting and I wanted to share my excitement with other writing center enthusiasts.

Students presenting at the Midwest Writing Center Association Conference. From left to right Alicia Beeson, Dory Cochran, Kelsey Hixson-Bowles, and Kate Nygren.

Students presenting at the Midwest Writing Center Association Conference. From left to right Alicia Beeson, Dory Cochran, Kelsey Hixson-Bowles, and Kate Nygren.

Lucky for me (and for you), writing center conferences are especially friendly to undergraduate scholars. Undergraduates are treated as equals among the graduates and faculty. Though I’m a grad student now, as an undergrad I always felt welcome and comfortable with the writing center crowds at the International Writing Center Association’s Conference, the Midwest Writing Center Association’s Conference, and the National Conference on Peer Tutoring Writing.

Do you have a favorite conference? Use the comments below to share your conference experiences!

 

Prepping Chapters for a New Year

nmiller150by Nick Miller
High Plains Associate Student Representative, 2012-2013
Chadron State College, Chadron, Nebraska

Making the transition from one school year to the next is a crucial but also tricky stage for every chapter. Choosing new officers and preparing them to assume their positions, keeping momentum going over the summer, and getting organized to hit the ground running in the fall are all big challenges facing chapters at this time of year. There are a few steps that your chapter can take to ensure that this transitional time is not only comfortable but productive as well.

Spring

Lincon University, Pennsylvania Induction

Lincoln University, Pennsylvania Induction

All chapters are required to complete the Chapter Annual Report Survey at the end of every school year. This survey was recently emailed to Lead Chapter Sponsors, but it is recommended that the Sponsor and officers meet and fill out the survey together. This also can be an excellent time to put together any end-of-year reports you need to send to school administration, student government, and/or donor groups, and go over any paperwork or other preparations that will need to be in place for the next year.

In addition, Chapter Officers, both outgoing and incoming, should fill out the Officers Only Survey, due May 13.

A chapter meeting at the end of the year, with everyone present, is a great way to generate ideas for what the chapter would like to accomplish next year and to set up your event calendar for the coming year. Everyone can voice their ideas and more veteran members and officers can give guidance and let other members know what works and what does not. You’ll also want to decide if you will be able to have any meetings over the summer.

Summer

Chapters are strongly encouraged to maintain communication over the summer. The Chapter Sponsor and Chapter Officers should try to hold at least one officer meeting over the summer, even if it has to be held via conference call or web chat. Officers can use the summer to begin planning fall activities such as new member recruitment and fundraisers. Use the Chapter Life section of the website to get ideas.

New Officers

Becoming an officer for a chapter can be an intimidating prospect until you are comfortable with the position. I know I felt overwhelmed and a little confused when I became a student leader. To smooth this transition, outgoing officers can meet with incoming officers to go over the responsibilities that come with the office and to share various tips and resources to help out while they get used to the responsibilities of their positions. I recommend meeting over lunch or coffee, something to make everyone comfortable. Make sure everyone can get questions in and everyone knows what is expected of them in their different offices. Chapter records should be provided to new officers as soon as possible.

It’s also a good idea to direct new officers to the various online resources available to chapters, such as the Chapter Life section of the website, the official Facebook page, the regional discussion groups, and the WORDY by Nature blog.

Finally, remind your Chapter Sponsor to update the chapter’s Write Away records ASAP to remove all outgoing officers from the officers list and to add any new officers with accurate contact information. This is essential to ensure that current officers receive the eNews and other important communications from the Central Office and their regional leaders.

Following the above advice will prepare you to be a better leader and position your chapter for a productive and successful year. Remember to ask questions and take advantage of the experience of Chapter Sponsors and outgoing officers. Being an officer is a very rewarding opportunity. It’s not just a good line on a resume. It also gives you a lot of leadership experience that will be useful to you throughout your academic career and into the workforce.

Oh the Places You Could Go

A Glimpse into a Possible Future with your Student Leadership Committee

kboles150by Kelsey Hixson-Bowles
Student Advisor, 2012-2014
Kansas State University

As one of the two Student Advisors, I want to tell everyone about the chance to run for Student Leadership. Think of this post as a brief FAQ about Student Leadership, and how and why you should consider getting involved. If I’ve missed any of your burning questions, feel free to email me at sigmatd.sa1@gmail.com. I look forward to seeing you in Portland!

Who makes up Student Leadership?

Student Leadership Committee meeting in NOLA, spring 2012

Student Leadership Committee meeting in NOLA, spring 2012

The Student Leadership members are the students elected and appointed to represent the interests and perspectives of students to Sigma Tau Delta’s Board of Directors. The Student Leadership Committee consists of two student-elected representatives from each region–a Student Representative (SR) and an Associate Student Representative (ASR)–as well as the two Board-appointed Student Advisors (SA), who chair the committee and hold voting powers.

What do Student Leaders do?

  • Provide the student voice to the Board of Directors
  • Advise and support student members through blog posts, newsletter articles, Facebook postings, convention workshops, and other means
  • Develop and encourage regional networking and collaboration
  • Host fun and informative events in our regions and at the international convention
  • SAs and SRs attend the fall and spring Board meetings; ASRs are encouraged to attend the convention

What exciting things is Student Leadership planning?

Perhaps the most exciting thing is helping SRs and ASRs better connect their regions so that individual chapters can partner up on service projects, submit collaborative workshop proposals to the convention, create regional conferences, etc. Having a well-connected region provides individual members more opportunities to contribute to projects in their areas of interest, as well as learn about other chapters, members, and schools.

Student leaders meet with the Board of Directors in NOLA, spring 2012

Student leaders meet with the Board of Directors in NOLA, spring 2012

In September, the SRs and SAs will meet the rest of the Board at the fall Board Meeting. This is a crucial chance for us to make plans for the school year and to learn first hand what all of the other committees are working on. It also gives us an opportunity to scope out the site of next year’s convention in order to tell our readers all about it on our blog.

I could go on and on about the work we hope to do in the next year, but I think it’s safe to say that we are always thinking about how to serve the membership at large and provide opportunities to get involved.

Sounds kinda cool…how will Student Leadership benefit me?

Student Leadership is one of those things where the more you put in, the more you get out. Some SRs and ASRs have put together regional literary magazines, gaining experience in publication and editing beyond what can be done at the chapter level. Others have organized regional conferences which honed their event planning and networking skills. Leaders who put their energies into writing for WORDY by Nature have found online followings, which led to the creation of personal blogs.

Allie, Christina, and Joe discuss student leadership plans while exploring Portland after the fall Board Meeting, fall 2012

Allie, Christina, and Joe discuss student leadership plans while exploring Portland after the fall Board Meeting, fall 2012

In addition to these irresistible intrinsic benefits, there are also extrinsic benefits to being a part of Student Leadership. To help offset the cost of travel, SRs (who keep up with their duties) receive travel reimbursements for the fall and spring Board meetings. ASRs (who keep up with their duties) are often offered travel support to the convention.

Awesome! How do I apply?

You must attend the 2013 Convention in Portland to apply and run for Student Representative or Associate Student Representative. Fill out an application form and turn it in by email, or in person to your Regent, or at the convention registration desk before the Regional Caucus (Friday). At the caucus you will have the opportunity to address your region and tell them why they should vote for you. Each chapter gets one vote (so don’t worry about those big chapters outweighing the smaller ones) and you find out right away if you’ve won! If you are elected, you will need to attend training sessions during the lunch breaks on Friday and Saturday, where you will learn everything you need to know to get started.