• Alexis A. Hauck

FYE Conference Wrap-Up

Just short of three weeks ago, the VALC team introduced themselves for the first time at the 2020 First-Year Experience Conference in Washington, D.C.

[From Left to Right: Alexis, Angela, Michael]

Hi, I'm Alexis Hauck. VALC's online manager and training team member. I created this website and manage our social media accounts including our email ( ). I am excited to be the first author up on the blog to recap the amazing experience we had at the FYE 2020 conference. This was my first time attending and presenting at an FYE conference and I have to say it was an awe-inspiring experience. The attendees are passionate, engaged, and creative educators and advisors. I didn’t know this at the time of presenting that many of the attendees are advisors who also teach. They are passionate about learning how to better their habits so they can serve their students more effectively.

VALC and our University 101 team from University of Northern Colorado worked hard to propose and have 6 facilitated discussions/ presentations accepted. Our presentations covered topics ranging from findings of evaluations of our programs to practical, applicable strategies for creating an environment for belonging in the classroom.

Our first presentation was on Saturday morning, where we packed 120 people into a presentation space setup for 75. Our team introduced the idea of belonging in the classroom supporting student success and retention towards graduation. Similarly to how we run our classrooms we opened up this facilitated discussion with a purpose driven question, ‘Why is it important to consider facilitating belonging in the classroom?’. We were blown away by the discussions that occurred with ideas ranging from “diversity is increasing”, “safe spaces are needed”, to “many students come in feeling different and as though they don’t belong”.

I had no idea that many of these attendees were full-time professionals who didn’t have much training in teaching but had huge hearts for the students they serve. This completely reshaped how I experienced the rest of the conference. I began to realize that these professionals were much like myself, outside of their training and yet still there to learn and grow with their students at the center of what they do. As our team shared practical, take home and apply ideas on incorporating wellness and reflective writing, we experienced similar passionate advisors and educators. When we would open up discussion topics the attendees ran with the topics and began to come up with creative ways to incorporate writing and wellness into their lessons.

We also shared some of our findings from our yearly evaluation of the University 101 program at a mid-sized university in Northern Colorado. We were excited about the findings we were able to share including that all but two students self-reported that their classroom leader knew their name. This contributed to students feelings as though they belonged on a college campus.

You can find all of our resources from all six of our presentations for the conference at:

As I sat on the plane home from the conference I was so energized by everyone at the conference. There were so many new ideas that I came home with from attendees and so many other ideas I am preparing to share next year at the 2021 conference in Seattle, Washington!

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