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Making the Most of May

As Higher Ed professionals, when we think of May many of us instantly think of May 1, the deadline for enrollment for many of our campuses, also known as National College Decision Day. Others may consider Commencement ceremonies and wrapping up the academic year. Undergraduate students and families, they may have their minds fixed on final exams and summer travel. But did you know that May is also Mental Health Awareness Month? Now, I feel confident that there are no real ties between the two, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t serendipitous; because whether the decision is where to go to college or which first professional contract to sign, landmark decisions and major events come with major stress. Now, typically, I am not one to couple activities of importance. I’m more of a one-major-event-at-a-time type of person, but if ever there was an opportunity to capitalize and double-down on activities that could benefit one another, May might just be the month for it.

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New Data on Family Engagement & Services

I’m pleased that the 2021 Family Engagement and Services at Colleges and Universities – our 10th biennial survey – is now available! Each time we post a new report for that survey, I can’t help but think back to the first effort in 2003 and consider how much has changed. In 2003, we parent/family practitioners were still in the early stages of finding each other. Our main source of connection was at the annual APPI conference (Administrators Promoting Parent Involvement), hosted by Susan Brown at Northwestern University. (The first conference was in 1998). Aside from that, we were trying to track each other down at NODA conferences, or we were stalking one another at NASPA and ACPA, hunting for any programs that related to parents and hoping to meet someone who did what we do.

What we knew in 2003:

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Remembering Kris Stewart

In loving memory of former AHEPPP president and founding member, Kristine (Kris) Stewart.

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Nicki Jenkins Elected to the BOD

Congratulations to Nicki Jenkins! Nicki was elected by her peers to serve as the new member of the AHEPPP Board of Directors! Nicki will serve a three year term beginning in January of 2022.

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Have you Met Lexie McCarthy?

Get to know Lexie McCarthy, Director of Parent & Family Relations at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. Lexie is a two-time member of the Family Engagement in Higher Education National Conference Team and is this year's Technology Chair.

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Membership Spotlight on Ben Williams

Meet Ben Williams Director of Director, New Student Orientation & Family Engagement at Georgia State University. Ben is the Region 3 Chair and a member of the Equity, Belonging & Inclusion Task Force. Ben will also be hosting an AHEPPP family engagement Spring Summit in 2022 in Atlanta.  

How did you become involved with AHEPPP?
When I got my new role at Georgia State, joining AHEPPP was a top priority and when emails came out I said yes! It's been a great experience.

Tell us how you first started in the field of Parent & Family Relations.
I started working in family engagement when I became the Assistant Director of Orientation at Georgia State. It has been a great opportunity to build a program back up and engage with family members across our 6 campuses.

What has surprised you most about working with parents and family members?
The incredible opportunities to build partnerships that help students and families succeed. Some of my favorite interactions start with frustrated families that allow for us to work together to support their students success.

What changes do you think we will see in the field of parent/family relations in the next 5 years?
I think we will need to focus on how family members are important partners in the enrollment, retention, and progression conversations on campus. Leveraging data to tell our stories of how engaging families help us contribute to student success.

When you're not working with parents and families, how do you like to spend your time? 

As a PhD student and dog dad, most of my time is spent with loved ones and in books. I love my work, but know it is crucial to find ways to recharge my batteries.

What is the last book you read?
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

Who inspires you? Why?

I am continually inspired by my mom, even though she is no longer here. She grew up in the geographic center of Texas with dirt floors and went on to do all sorts of wonderful things. In her final years, she was a House Mom for Delta Zeta at Texas State and reminded me each day it is not our experiences, but how we respond that show who we are.

If you had to eat only one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
breakfast....all the pancakes and bacon. :)

AHEPPP Endorses College Ready

As the only association dedicated to student success through informed parent and family engagement, AHEPPP is proud to endorse College Ready: Expert Advice for Parents to Simplify the College Transition. This parent resource written entirely by AHEPPP members.

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Basics to Build Your Racial Injustices PD

Across our personal conversations, social media feeds, and staff meetings, 2020 has loomed large. Between COVID, quarantining, and racial injustices, many days over the last year seemed relentless. For me, with this additional anxiety, I want to find places in my life that I can do something; how can I make this world I am living in slightly better?

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Revisioning the International Student Experience and Family Support

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), in the 2018–19 academic year, over 1 million international students enrolled in institutions of higher education in the United States.  This number is double the 547,867 students who were enrolled 20 years prior in 2000–01.  It is estimated that international students add over $40 billion to the US economy each year.  Since World War II, the United States has been a top destination for international student enrollment.

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Active Minds: A Mental Health Resource for Students, Parents, Professionals, etc.

On our recent AHEPPP call, I was reminded of the importance of resources. Hopefully we have all been connecting with the resources on our campuses and those available remotely as well. One of the resources I was connected to early on by our Counseling and Psychological Services department in this crisis is the Active Minds website. There are not only articles that you can share, but there are also webinars that have been offered this week, including one today for "Young Adults, Parents, Remote Workers, Neighbors/Community Members" that might be of interest. You must sign up for the webinars, but they are free and you can sign up here.

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Student Leaders and Family Connection: Benefiting the University Through Engagement, Retention, and Recruitment

CAS Standards and national family program surveys provide evidence that parent/family programs nationwide are increasing in both number and scope in higher education, most markedly since the beginning of the 21st century.  Since its inception ten years ago, the Gonzaga Parent/Family Office has established an excellent track record in programming, communication, and services for parents and families; because of this established reputation, four years ago it became clear that training student leaders to work with families would benefit the university, students and families.

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Cultivating a Growth Mindset

The Growth Mindset is presented during the first day of our two-day orientation. It’s the second presentation after the welcome, when students have temporarily left their parent to start their program.  It is presented by Amanda Durik a psychology professor at Northern Illinois University who has done extensive research on this concept. 

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How to Encourage Student Independence and Problem-Solving

One of the toughest parts of working in parent/family relations is how to help families understand when NOT to get involved, and recognize that allowing their students to solve their own problems will help them develop independence and essential problem-solving skills.

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