June 12, 2006

Angels Part 3: Bronk

One thing I will never tire of, no matter where I am, or where Kick Butt Productions has gone, or what I've accomplished is when someone asks me about my writing. Lately, since I've been doing more of it, it's been a tad bit more rewarding. But nonetheless, I always get a jolt of inspiration and good tiding when someone asks me.

In my first year of returning to Oshkosh I happened across a graduate student who was also starting his first year. Along with our good friend Jim Droste, the man in question, Ryan Bronkema, and myself, started three pretty unforgettable years. It's difficult to measure what both of them brought to the table or how the three of us affected each other. But I'm thankful they were around.

Sadly, Ryan is moving on to greener pastures, ready, and fearless as always, to take the next step in his professional career. To gloss over some of the things he accomplished at Oshkosh would be braggadocious for a man who wanted to "grow better corn" for the profession of student affairs and for the people he served. There will always be one thing I will appreciate in him more than any other characteristic.

Ryan carries a mystical passion about life in things that many at first glance may not see the sparkle or beauty in. He can dive deep with his dreaming and imagination and create something awestriking and brilliant. On a slightly humorous note this always reminds me of when we were in Shopko. He was pretty stoked over this video game about farming...farming of all things. In a day and age when your average video game contains cinematic graphics, and hyper 1st person perspective, the man was genuinely stoked about a game about farming.

As he lauded on and on at the store about this game another patron was nearby. As soon as Ryan moved away from the game (holding his own copy) the patron walked up to where the other copies of the game were and looked at it. Within seconds, the man walked away, with a copy of the same farming game Ryan had, ready to purchase it. Uncanny.

Ryan's ability to spark interest in the mundane shows his strength about working with people. People who may not, at first glance, appear to have a gift. But he has the ability to see it. To draw it out. He is a coach. Whether he's working with star players, or the kid who just walked on, he knows how to corall a team, and make people feel like an individual as well as contributing member.

For me, I will never forget many of the moments and fun times, but I will always remember when he, after only knowing me for a short time, he asked about my writing. UW La Crosse is in great hands, and if I can give one gift back to him it would be this...

The journey, all of them, are always long, and full of obstacles. You need not the courage to face those obstacles, because I know you have it. Yet remember what the great poets of the early 90's, Guns N Roses, once said...."all you need is a little patience." Finish the journey you start, all of them, with the same gusto that you start with, and your dreams will be acheived. Thanks Ryan for always believing.


June 08, 2006

One Small Step

For those of you who don't know, we've (and when I use 'we' I mean a collective and somewhat changing group of students and professionals who want to see the NACURH Conference come to Oshkosh) been attempting to bid to host said conference for the past two years. This means that we twice went through the process of getting a student leadership team together, wrote a conference bid which is about 80 pages long, and presented in front of a group of student leaders at at the national conference.

Last year, it was a small group of focused students who attempted this task. I can truly say that a lot of us learned from that experience. Sadly, we did not get the bid last year (for 2006). This however enabled and inspired a new group of students to step up and take the charge. This new group not only learned from the previous' groups struggles (with some advice from some of the 'old guard' who decided to hang around and help out) but also added their own specific flare in the bid which I believe played an integral part in winning the bid this year (for 2007).

I've been fortunate enough to observe, first hand, what these student leaders go through during the bidding process. And I want to say that I am truly proud of all of them, and the hard work and the money (it cost them at least $300 to attend) they put forth was well worth it. And they should feel excited for this opportunity.

Before I continue with some smaller things about NACURH this year I would like to first mention that there was another delegation who's been working just as hard for the past two years. University of Northern Iowa (go Panthers!) have also bid two years in a row. I've been to two of their conferences in the past (RA and MACURH) and know that they put on a fantastic conference. I even had a chance to meet some of the students from UNI and I know they're going into the field of student affairs. I wish them luck. And I know the process is hard, but it would be great to see UNI bid again if not this year at least some time in the immediate future.

All That I Needed to Know in Life I Learned from Bidding at NACURH twice.

More Hands Make Less Work
The first time around we had a small yet truly dedicated group of students to learn and present the bid. Although this made some things easier I think it was also a struggle. The student leadership of this group, Ben and Allyson, definitely took some time to cultivate new leaders when they could. When it came to forming the presentation team, we had leaders who were confident with their contributions to the process.

Theoretical Practice
The bid process is interesting because for a whole year you're essentially imagining a fake conference. You're talking to businesses and constiuents without any guarantee that you're gonna get the conference. This group did a good job speaking with a convicted reality, sounding confident about getting the conference but not being overly cocky and saying that it was a sure thing. Additionally, the students dove into their imaginations to see what different things can be done to strengthen the NACURH conference, being not afraid to try some new ideas.

Keep It Light
Ever since DJ from last year's bid team asked the NBD "Who wants a Pepsi?" I think we all learned a lesson that you can have an extremely professional presentation but if you're not having fun with it, it shows. This group definitely took some time to add in their own flare (go conference binders!) while maintaining a professional composure overall.

It's The Journey Not the Destination
I realized that when they play your video at NACURH, you get excited and jacked and it's a relieving feeling. I also realized that soon after comes the thought "well, time to work." A new journey starts. But receiving or not receiving the bid is not a measure of success for any bid team. Ryan Bronkema said it the best when he told the delegation that they did something only a few other delegations have done previously: bid for a national conference. Other than the fantastic explosion of last year (4 bid teams) NACURH usually averages between 1 and 2 bids a year for the conference. As I stated above, the process to bid is a difficult one but one that any delegation should be proud of.

Enjoy the Conference
The nice thing about NACURH is that once you bid you get a chance to enjoy the rest of the conference. This delegation did a good job kicking it and relaxing soon after they presented (yes at times that did include a nap or two). Like anything in life when you've put your best foot forward, there's always some allowable time to reflect on the process and move on. You did what you could do, it's out of your hands.

As always I got a chance to see some old friends (Mikey, Eric, Jason) but there was something electric this time around about NACURH...I thank the students from our delegation who believed in themselves and grew throughout this process. And to anyone bidding for NACURH, good luck, it's a great time and it's worth it no matter what they outcome.