2016 AAA Conference

Welcome to the 2016 Academic Advising Association Conference Page. Please join us on Thursday, February 25 in the Nebraska East Campus Union for our third annual conference!

We're excited to grow the conference this year by extending invitations to 21 local 2- and 4-year institutions. Our theme of Advising to Promote Diversity and Social Justice is inspired by our current socio-political climate, where it is both student and advisor that must take responsibility for seeking to understand, and then contributing, to our changing communities. Understanding the whole student and our whole selves is the first step in creating and motivating change.

If you have any questions about the conference, contact Celeste Spier or Meagan Savage, conference co-chairs. Below, find information about our keynote speaker, Yuki Burton, her keynote address, her plenary session, the conference schedule, and session descriptions.

We extend our thanks to our generous sponsors that helped make this conference possible: College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, College of Arts & Sciences, College of Business Administration, College of Education and Human Sciences, College of Fine & Performing Arts, College of Journalism & Mass Communications, Academic Affairs, Athletic Department, The Institute for Ethnic Studies, Office of Academic Success and Intercultural Services, and Hobsons. .

Conference registration

Conference registration is now closed.

Guest speaker: Yuki Burton, M.Ed.

The 2016 Conference Committee is pleased to welcome Yuki Burton from University of California, Berkeley as our guest speaker. She will present the keynote address and a plenary session.

Yuki is a firm believer that there is healing in the retelling of our stories.  Originally from San Diego, California, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley with a concentrated interest in social inequalities.  Committed to serving marginalized communities, she spent a year in Atlanta participating in Mission Year, a faith-based service program in which she lived in community and volunteered at Covenant House Georgia, a homeless shelter for youth 17-21 years of age.  Yuki earned a Master of Education at San Diego State University's Community-Based Block program studying multicultural community counseling and social justice.  During that time, she also worked at San Diego City College's Puente Program supporting Chican@/Latin@ students transitioning to four-year institutions.

As an Academic Counselor at UC Berkeley’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Yuki specializes in serving non-traditional students including those who identify as first-generation, low-income, transfers, student-parents, adult learners, veterans, current/former foster youth and/or undocumented.  As a #ProudtoBeEOP alum herself, she is passionate about supporting students to achieve a transformative educational experience while shattering the status quo.

Yuki currently lives in Oakland and often misses the perfect weather and carne asada fries from San Diego.  When she’s not clearing her inbox, you can find her cooking new recipes from Pinterest, singing along to Beyonce` in the car or exchanging selfies with her mom

Keynote address

"Embracing the #WholeStudentWholeAdvisor: Celebrating Diversity through the Practice of  Mastering Self"
Emails. Student appointments.  Meetings (some that we love and some that we hate).  And oh yeah, don’t forget lunch!  Too often, as advisors we are consumed with the high demands of our campus responsibilities leaving little to no room for intentional self-reflection.  While advisors serve as a critical support system for students, it is imperative for us to pause and introspectively reflect on our own identities and narratives.  Finding the delicate balance between holding space for our students and ourselves is equally important. By exploring themes of intersectionality, power & privilege, this interactive session will encourage advisors to define “wholeness” for themselves in an effort to better serve the unique needs of our diverse student populations.  Given the multitude of high-profile campus climate issues at PWIs nationwide, advisors are charged with the responsibility to serve as champions for promoting diversity and social justice.

Plenary session

"Who Said Emotions Don’t Matter?!: The Practice of Emotion-Focused Therapy in Academic Advising"
Here’s a tissue for your issue!  Right?  Wrong!  Many of us are socialized to dismiss the emotions we experience in our lives as “emotional baggage.” This can desensitize us to the valid emotions we experience within ourselves and others.  Utilizing Leslie Greenberg’s Emotion-Focused Therapy (EFT), this experiential workshop will use small-group discussions and art activities to spark a self-reflection of the range of emotions that advisors experience while engaging with students. While advisors often create a safe emotional space for students, it is critical to be intentional about heightening one’s own emotional awareness to better meet students’ needs.  Advisors will also learn to engage with emotions through a multicultural lens in addition to offering best practices for emotional self-care.

Conference schedule and session descriptions


Check-in, Breakfast, Posters, Resource Fair

Great Plains


Welcome and Keynote

Great Plains

10:00-10:15 BREAK


Who Said Emotions Don't Matter?!: The Practice of Emotion-Focused Therapy in Advising

Great Plains

Using Media to Create Conversatinos: Addressing Social Justice Issues with Students


Working with Latino/a Students: A Discussion on Collectivist Culture


Going Beyond the Classroom: Using Technology to “Start Smart”


11:15- 12:15


Great Plains

12:15-12:30 BREAK


Religion and Spirituality in Advising


Talking the Talk: Communicating with First-Generation, Low-Income, and Diverse Students


Black Lives Matter and its Impact on UNL Students


Understanding Community College Students’ Transition Experience: Viewing Transition Through the Lens of Transition Theory


1:30-1:45 BREAK


In Their Words: UNL Advising Through the Eyes of Our Students


Responding to Distressed Students: How to Make Safe Referrals for Sexual Assault Survivors


Understanding Asian American Students in Higher Education


Small Fish Out of Water: Rural First-Generation Student Experience at a Large University



Closing, Reflections, and Evaluations

Great Plains


Post-Conference Social


Using Media to Creat Conversations: Addressing Social Justice Issues with Students
Presenters: Katie Buell and Vaughn Love

This presentation intends to give professionals the tools to introduce and engage in conversations regarding social justice issues. As evidenced by the events at the University of Missouri-Columbia and many other institutions across the country, students must engage in conversations about privilege and oppression for their own development. The use of digital media provides advisors with a low-risk opportunity to introduce social justice concepts to students, and students an accessible way to learn. The presenters will discuss visual media as an effective teaching and learning tool in both curricular and co-curricular contexts. The presentation will review examples to illustrate how media can engage students in conversations concerning social justice. The presenters will conclude with the Courageous Conversations protocol and Privileged Identity Exploration model as examples of how to productively frame conversations on social justice issues.

Working with Latino/a Students: A Discussion on Collectivist Culture

Presenter: Kara Brant

This interactive discussion will explore communication and advising with Latino/a students through the theoretical lens of Geert Hofstede’s (1980) Cultural Dimensions study which identified Latin American culture as Collectivist.  As a Collectivist culture, Latino/a students often have strong ties to family, community, and home that influence their success and commitment to college. It is crucial for professionals in higher education to possess cultural competency with awareness and sensitivity to these cultural patterns that Latino/a students often carry with them to college. Attendees will sharemexisting strategies and learn best practices in being inclusive of students coming from this and other Collectivist cultures or family structures. 

Going Beyond the Classroom: Using Technology to “Start Smart”

Presenters: Megan Friesen, Ashley Wegener, and Jennifer Mostek

What do you wish you would have known prior to starting college? We asked this question to current business students and developed an online seminar for incoming students in response.  This presentation will introduce you to the methods incorporated into the seminar to ease the academic transition to college, specifically addressing the diverse needs of students from a variety of academic backgrounds. Seminar topic areas include using Blackboard, understanding a syllabus, communicating with faculty, time management, academic integrity, and additional academic success strategies/resources. Catering to Generation Z, the seminar utilizes a variety of technology mediums, such as infographics, video clips, word clouds, cartoons, games, and social media storyboards. Participants will come away with a handout of technology tools and new ideas for incorporating these methods to ease student academic transition in your own department.

 Religion and Spirituality in Academic Advising

Presenters: Christy Craft, Joanna Seley, and Savannah Nulton

The purpose of this session is to provide an opportunity for academic advisors working in various types of higher education settings to discuss ways in which they can respond to students’ expressions of religion and spirituality while appropriately expressing their own religious and/or spiritual identities.

Talking the Talk: Communicating with First Generation, Low-Income, and Diverse Students

Presenter: Deena Curtis

Using the principles of Educate, Empower and Embrace coined by the company 3ELove and the guidance of Ruby Payne’s writings on persons of poverty, the participant will learn new ways to use language to communicate with under-represented scholars.  The academic background that predicates this communication and the levels one may encounter in higher education will be explored to promote a means of developing a comprehensive communication plan that is comfortable for both the practitioner and the scholar.  

Black Lives Matter and Its Impact on UNL Students

Facilitator: Carnetta Griffin

The Black Lives Matter movement has sailed beyond the nation and has reached many parts of the world. It may seem sometimes that the movement is larger than ourselves, but it can have an effect on those in our very own communities. This student-lead panel will share their insights on how the Black Lives Matter movement has affected them as college students. They will share their experiences as it relates inside and outside of the classroom. These divine students will also tell what forms of support they may currently have and the types of support they still need from faculty and advisors to be successful. Let this panel discussion be an opportunity to see what we are doing and what more we can do to support our students as it relates to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Understanding Community College Student’s Transition Experience: Viewing Transition Through the Lens of Transition Theory

Presenter: Tony Lazarowicz

Transfer students are a hidden population, yet represent all genders, ethnicities, religious affiliations, sexual orientation, abilities, national origins, and much more. If higher education professionals are to promote inclusivity and diversity, transfer students must be a vital community to include. I will share results of my recent dissertation which sought to qualitatively understand the transition experience that 12 community college transfer students had moving to a large Midwest, research intensive, 4-year university. We’ll continue by understanding how aspects of transition theory (Anderson, Goodman, and Schlossberg, 2012) could be utilized in working with transfer students. Finally, participants will engage in discussion of current practices at their institutions, how those tie to transition theory, and how our campuses can foster an inclusive environment for this unique and growing population of college students nationally.

In Their Words: UNL Advising Through the Eyes of Our Students

Facilitators: Eric Einspahr, Kelly Payne, Kelli King

As an advising community seeking to better understand the social, ethnic, religious, and gender diversity on our campus, no conversation would be complete without hearing from our own students. The purpose of this presentation is to create an open dialogue between current students and academic advisors. A panel of approximately 8 undergraduate on students from William H Thompson, UNL Inter-tribal Counsel, Mexican American Student Association, Spectrum, and other organizations. Panelists will discuss their experiences as students, their perceived status on campus, their views on advising, and their sense of how our advising community can best serve and support them.

Responding to Distressed Students: How to Make Safe Referrals for Sexual Assault Survivors

Presenter: Morgan Beal

One of the most common and pervasive crimes occurring on college campuses is sexual assault. National studies have found that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college. Academic advisors often times are the front-line responders to student disclosures. Therefore, it is pertinent that advisors become educated about the issues and trained to respond appropriately. This presentation is intended to help advisors feel prepared to support students who disclose sexual assault to them and to familiarize advisors with campus and community resources.

Understanding Asian American Students in Higher Education

Presenter: Anh Le

Asian American students have been one of the least discussed groups in conversations about minority students in U.S. higher education. They are often misconstrued as a homogeneous and successful group. However, research on Asian American students has showed that this is a very diverse group with unique needs and challenges. In this presentation, I will provide a brief overview of the Asian American historical contexts to highlight the diversity within the Asian American community. I will also discuss some prominent Asian American student development theories to provide the background knowledge about the complexity of factors affecting Asian American students’ experience and performance in college. Lastly, I will discuss pertinent issues facing Asian American students in college and offer suggestions on how higher education professionals and educators could assist these students in their college success journeys.

Small Fish Out of Water: Rural First-Generation Student Experience at a Large University

Presenter: Ben Heinisch

This presentation describes the methodology and findings from a recent phenomenological study examining the experiences of first-generation students from rural Nebraska attending the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  The study focuses on barriers these students have to overcome and touches on some positive aspects to their experience as well.  The goal of this presentation is to illustrate the issues experienced by this often-overlooked student population by walking through the process of this research project, examining the themes that emerged from the student interviews and discuss their implications for practice in higher education.

Previous conferences

2015 - The Hidden Student; 2014 - Growing B1G Potential