The 2011 National Association of Campus Activities (or NACA) National Convention was held last week February 19 (my birthday!) through February 23 in St. Louis Missouri. The theme for this year was “Swing for the Fences.” The purpose of this convention is to bring different forms of talent together in one building for the potential of being booked on college campuses. This trip would be a bittersweet experience for me. This trip would be my first and last NACA nationals for I am a graduating senior but let us get back to the trip. This trip was an interesting one to say the least.
Let me start from the beginning. The first day of NACA for our CAB was not starting well. Our delayed flight to Chicago made us miss our connector flight to St. Louis. That mistake on behalf of United Airways gave us a chance to experience Chicago while we waited 5 hours for our flight to St. Louis. I was so excited some of our executive board members did not want to spend the next 5 hours in the airport being bored.
Four out of 11 of us took the tram to downtown Chicago. As we got off the train, the music of the Djembe drums greeted us. The man playing the drums saw our jackets, which had “CAB” on the back and started sing just that. He got us pumped to see the windy city.
Boy was it windy! As we emerged from the depths of the subway tram, the strikingly cold wind current astounded us! We could see the heat coming from our mouths! Now this is coming from southerners who left 60-degree weather back in North Carolina. Our jackets were not made of fleece so we felt those 33 degrees all too well.
Our journey lead us to the public library of downtown Chicago We went on the ninth floor to see an exhibit of the late Mayor Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago. We soon left to head back to O’Hara airport before we miss our flight. As we were walking back to the subway, we took a different route that leads us in clear view of John Marshall Law School. I was so excited to see it because I was planning a trip there last year with a friend to attend a law forum at that very school. The law field is an interest of mine but I am now only focusing on the marketing aspect I wish to pursue.
We finally made it to St. Louis but we had missed all of the events for the first day. Our executive board checked into the lovely Hampton Inn located near the beautiful Gateway Arch. As we were checking in, the front desk attendant informed us that our rooms were not ready. To make up for this mix-up the hotel gave everyone complimentary gift cards to the wonderful restaurant “The Drunken Fish.” They also gave me chocolates, a card, and another gift card to the restaurant the Tigrin just because it was my birthday and we had been through a lot of trouble just getting to St. Louis.
Over the next three days, we saw some fresh talent such as John West, an amazing singer, Joe Wong, a hilarious comedian, and Carlos Robson, the best poet I’ve seen at NACA, and those are just a few of the great talented people I’ve met during my experience in St. Louis. Our keynote speaker for NACA was Collins Tuoghy, who is the adoptive sister of Michael Oher from the book-made movie “The Blind Side.” She gave a very inspiring address about how we should approach the world with an open mind and not be afraid to speak to people whom we pass by every day.
At NACA, we just do not view showcases of different roving artists. We also attend educational sessions. I attend several educational sessions but one really stuck out to me the most and also inspired me to start a blog. That Ed session titled “Social Media’s Impact on My Job Search: Connection, Validation, and Perspective.” The presenters were Rebecca Flick and Mike Severy from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. This was an amazing session. They spoke about using social media in a professional way. Your twitter name should be as close to your real name as possible. That is why I changed mines to @Johnson_Cassie. Your bio on twitter is also an important aspect to alter if you want potential employers to look at you outside of the workplace. Basically, keep everything professional as possible but be yourself!
Even though I got to ride to the top of the Gateway Arch, the tallest man-made structure in the United States (630 feet tall), I was still not fully satisfied with my experience in this beautiful city. On my last day, I got up early and decided to explore the city just to myself. My camera died so I twicpic everything I took pictures of including the Gateway Arch, Busch stadium, center city park, the old courthouse, beautiful city hall, and the St. Louis Soldiers Memorial Military Museum. Exploring on my own was perhaps the best experience I had in Missouri.
Even with a great trip, United Airways once again messed up our flight. We flew from St. Louis to Washington D.C. Our flight to Greensboro was canceled as we were about to board the plane back. We decided to drive from D.C. to Greensboro, a five-hour drive, and it was already 8pm. United Airways was the reason I did not make class the next day.
I will be forever thankful for all of the experience I had with the duration of my trip to NACA, good and bad. It will help shape me to be a better person, personally and professionally.