Seventh Annual Student Academic Conference: a Student Reflection

By Vickie Moller, student, Long Island Center–Hauppauge Unit and 2011-2012 student representative, Student Affairs Committee

February 7, 2012

With the greater part of my experience as a student at SUNY Empire State College limited to the Long Island Center’s three units, the two intense days at the Seventh Annual Student Academic Conference in White Plains increased my understanding of how expansive, professional and innovative this institution of higher learning is.

Together with students, alumni, administrators and mentors from all over New York state — and other parts of the world — I celebrated the academic and artistic accomplishments of many students. In the context of a thoroughly enjoyable social environment, I learned not only from their work, but about their work.

From biology to cultural studies and cinema arts, from historical studies to labor policy and music studies, andfrom business administration to nursing and creative writing, the broad range and number of student presentations at the conference was extraordinary. Each session that I attended was impressive — an informative, insightful and skillfully delivered presentation — a true testament to the caliber of student that SUNY Empire State College produces.

As a reporter for The Student Connection newsletter, I conducted interviews with a number of the student presenters at the conference and was privileged to uncover the dreams, interests and challenges that inspired and fueled the passion behind their superb contributions. The sheer variety and number of individual experiences and achievements represented was astounding, humbling and inspiring.

Many of the presenters said they discovered their talents and received inspiration for their work as a direct result of their studies at SUNY Empire State College — which leads me to wonder how much of their talent and how many of their exceptional contributions would never have found full expression, had not the raw material of their ability, desire and hard work met with the tools and opportunities afforded them as students at SUNY Empire State College.

With plenty of time to chat informally, the conference also presented a unique and delightful opportunity to make meaningful connections with a number of fellow students from various backgrounds and locations. Eager to share our stories, we readily connected as we found that we identified with each other’s experiences on so many levels — academically, socially and personally. I was especially inspired and encouraged as I learned of their academic accomplishments and achievements — sometimes through very difficult setbacks and personal challenges. Warmed and heartened by them, I have taken their names, faces and stories back with me, to my respective academic endeavors with a renewed determination and increased commitment toward my goals.

I am still debriefing, assimilating and celebrating the time I spent at the Student Academic Conference — one of the most valuable and enduring investments I have made in my education as a student at SUNY Empire State College.