Jen Berry, the lead academic advisor in the IU 21st Century Scholars Program at Indiana University Bloomington, was recently accepted into the NACADA Emerging Leaders Program. NACADA, a global community for academic advisors, offers the two-year program to ten emerging leaders yearly. During this time, the emerging leaders work closely with mentors to connect the leaders to the "areas of the association they are interested in and develop a plan for continued involvement and growth in the association." Recipients receive a $2,000 stipend to assist them with travel to regional, annual, and international NACADA conferences.
According to their website, the NACADA Emerging Leaders Program:
- encourages members from diverse groups to get involved in leadership opportunities within the organization,
- outfits participants with the skills and tools necessary to pursue elected and appointed leadership positions,
- increases the number of leaders from diverse groups, and
- encourages and assists members of populations underrepresented in the association's leadership to attend state, regional, or annual conferences.
Berry has been involved with NACADA before but noted that their minoritized status stood out at many events. "It was hard to find people who looked like me," they said. "But that's why I applied for the program. NACADA does want to be more diverse, and this program is just one of the ways they have been actively moving forward with for years, to create a more diverse and inclusive environment."
Selected as an alternate last year, Berry ultimately did not enter the program but did not let that deter them. "When I was revisiting and revising last year's application, it was amazing to see just how much I've grown between then and now," they said. Questions ranged from an applicant's professional interests to more personal questions, such as how the applicant would contribute to the program.
According to Berry, one of their goals entering the program is to become more involved with journal writing at the regional and international levels. "I think the work NACADA does and the information they publish in their journals is invaluable," they said. "And I want to be a part of it not only because I think the information is important, but because I want to inspire those who look like me showing that there are diverse individuals supporting students across the globe."
In addition to the application process, applicants provide a letter of recommendation from their supervisor. "I am so thankful to both Vince Isom and Yolanda Treviño for their kind words," Berry said. "They strongly supported my application, and it's always great to know that they encourage my personal and professional goals."