A group of student attendees pose after the BeHIP! SDSU Student Conference with prizes and swag.

This past weekend, the Division of Undergraduate Studies (DUS) hosted its 2nd Annual BeHIP! SDSU Student Conference on April 8th, 2017. With an emphasis on High Impact Practices (HIPs), the conference featured a series of guest lecturers, workshops, free food, and customized swag. Overall, the conference stressed that participating in at least two HIPs – including internships, study abroad, undergraduate research, and community service learning – can dramatically improve your college career and your prospects once you graduate from SDSU.

Registration check-in took place between 8:30-9 AM. Students chatted around the Storm Hall West courtyard and helped themselves to free Rubio’s breakfast burritos. Around 9 AM, everyone filed into the Storm Hall West 12 auditorium. Janet Abbott, the Director of the Compact Scholars and Academic Student Success Programs, opened the conference with a general overview of  HIPs and their benefits, and reviewed the program schedule. She emphasized the word “impact,” stressing that in order to make a tangible, positive impact in your personal and academic life, you must take initiative to seek out opportunities to participate in HIPs at SDSU.

Guest Speaker and SDSU Alumnus Jordan Harrison believes that “High Impact Practices assist in creating transformative college experiences.”

Next, Jordan Harrison, an SDSU alumnus and experienced veteran of HIPs at SDSU, took the podium. He discussed his own personal experience with service learning communities (having joined over 20 student organizations during his time in college) and interning, and how participating in these activities allowed him to land over 20 job offers at graduation and eventual admission to Harvard with a full ride.

Harrison recognizes that many students can be nervous about pushing boundaries and leaving their comfort zone: “I had quite a few students come to me after the speech to share their fears, struggles, but also sense of hope and passion in getting involved.  I saw students begin to understand the power and importance of getting involved and how one small conversation or experience can truly change or define their college journey. I hope students learned from my personal experience that it is okay to not have all the answers and to not know where life may lead you. However, to start to get answers you must get involved.” He added, “high impact practices allow students to take a deep dive to learn about life and themselves. These practices allow students to question, learn and grow before jumping into the ‘real world.’ Those who take advantage of these opportunities are diverse in thought and experience.”

Harrison then mediated a Q&A session with four student panelists, each of whom represented one HIP.  Jordan asked them to share their stories and explain how participating in a HIP had made a positive difference in their college experience. These initial conversations in the opening session helped student attendees plan which workshops to attend throughout the rest of the conference.

The internship workshop offered advice and testimonials on not only how to secure an internship, but why internships may provide students with valuable experience and skills relevant to their field.

Following the welcome session, students then attended breakout sessions, having the option to attend any workshop (there were four workshops offered: internships, study abroad, undergraduate research and community service learning). Each workshop was facilitated by an experienced SDSU faculty or staff member, and included student HIP representatives as well. While the facilitator helped student attendees understand the HIP and how to get involved at SDSU, the student panelists shared their personal experiences with the benefits, struggles, and resources related to their particular HIP.

The internships workshop, for example, featured SDSU Campus Internship Coordinator Heather LaPerle, who emphasized the importance of internships and the value of the experience they provide. She also made sure to warn students not to wait until after college to intern, because internships are largely targeted toward current students only. Other workshops were formulated similar to this, expressing the value of their HIP, how students can pursue participation, how this practice can be beneficial, and why it’s imperative to begin the journey now.

“The conference was extremely informative and motivating,” remarked SDSU student attendee Ilex Beltran-Najera, “I was reminded about the resources available, from the international coffee hour every Friday in the International Student Center to mock interviews in the Career Center. I had originally been seeking information about studying abroad and I left incorporating what I learned from the internships session and the study abroad session to maximize my experience as a student.”

Student attendee Ilex Beltran-Najera shares that her favorite breakout session was study abroad “because of how encouraging and enthusiastic the informers were.”

After two breakout sessions, students enjoyed free lunch before attending a goal setting and planning session specific to one HIP of their choice, and then closing ceremony. At closing, a few attendees were able to promotional items during an opportunity drawing. All students left the conference with a customized BeHIP! lanyard, wristlet, pen, and folder full of resource cards and worksheets. In addition, student attendees were eligible to apply for the Division of Undergraduate Studies HIP Scholarship, which provides funding for students seeking financial support for completing the HIP of their choice.

Overall, the Division of Undergraduate Studies enjoyed another successful BeHIP! SDSU Student Conference. For more information about the annual BeHIP! SDSU Student Conference, or to get involved with next year’s conference, please contact Janet Abbott at jabbott@mail.sdsu.edu.