GPA 2021 Annual Conference Scholarship Essay by Jacqui Ragin

First I would like to thank my local Nevada chapter for allowing me to attend the GPA conference, through their scholarship program. This was my first time attending a GPA conference and I was extremely excited as I mentally prepared to attend this event in person. I had never been to Seattle and the conference agenda and location made it very appealing.  Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was unable to travel to Seattle. I say that to say, I did have to mentally regroup and adjust my expectations for online attendance and participation. I had momentary flashbacks to my days as a college student taking classes online, which by the way I hated and did when absolutely necessary. I am definitely more of an in person attendee for events in general.

As many of you know, attending sessions for hours online has its pros and cons.  So I will start with the cons and will end with the good stuff. The biggest hurdle was technology, some issues were in my control and others not so much. All scholars were required to assist with the auction, however due to some tech problems we were unable to do so. We did get to meet to take a virtual photo of the group. One session that I wanted to watch after the conference ended jumped from slide 15 to 75, cutting out a significant chunk of the presentation. Additionally during the presentation we could not hear the question/s being asked, the presenter forgot people were online at times. The other downside of my experience was just not being a part of the group’s shared experience. Attending online for me is a solo event and there are certain things you miss by not being there live

Overall, I must say my experience was mostly positive. On the upside, I received my care pack, which was a great surprise. I was able to listen to sessions in the comfort of my home and truly focus on what was being presented. There were sessions that had some fantastic speakers, shout out to the mom and son duo Karen Cassidy and Andrew Goewert. Their Saturday presentation was packed with useful and practical information.  I really enjoyed their session. Another great feature of online and recordings is that you can go back and watch what you missed. I am still making my way through and catching up, but I hope to get to all the presentations I wanted to see but I missed.

Happy holidays!