SPEA’s Experience Day and the Student Professional Enrichment Auction

The last week of March here at SPEA was nothing less than crazy! The week consisted of our Prospective Student Visit Day or “Experience Day,” as well as the Third Annual Spring Student Professional Enrichment Auction (S.P.E.A.). These are both exciting events at SPEA in which current students, faculty and staff are truly engaged in our little community despite their hectic midterm responsibilities and day-to-day work!

Experience Day proved quite successful with over 75 prospective students in attendance, over 40 current students involved, and all faculty and staff engaged to welcome future SPEA grad students. The day consisted of breakfast with faculty and current student ambassadors, a welcome and introduction by the Graduate Program Office, followed by faculty presentations, campus tours, career services presentations, lunch with alumni and current students, and in the afternoon, concentration breakout sessions. At the end of the day, the prospective students had the opportunity to attend the Spring S.P.E.A. along with current students, faculty, staff, and alumni! What a great way to experience SPEA. All in all, as an ambassador, I got to know five students very well–all of whom have followed up with questions for me as they decide where they will ultimately attend graduate school. This personal outreach surely accomplishes our goal on Experience Day, to allow prospective student to see if they feel that SPEA is the right fit for them!

The Spring SPEA is an enjoyable evening in which prospective students really get to see how SPEA is one big family! The event was organized three years ago by Masters students who saw a need to help support Masters students who were taking unfunded internships and trying to pay for professional development opportunities on grad school budgets! The resources raised give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have obtained at SPEA to advance research, strengthen their communities, and share their experiential knowledge in their classrooms, activities, and projects. This increases the professional network of the students and broadens the reputation of SPEA. In fact, this was the case for me, as I was awarded a scholarship for professional development that was funded by the auction. The money allowed me to attend a regional conference where I presented a paper I had written–this opportunity was invaluable, since as a PhD student, presentations will continue to be a part of my career!

There were several exciting items auctioned off this year. For the third year in a row, Professor Terry Usrey offered “A Day on the Farm.” Winners visit Professor Usrey’s goat farm, milk goats and learn to make their own goat cheese (which they take home, along with many memories, I’m sure). Another item that went for quite a pretty penny was a week’s stay at a bed and breakfast in New Zealand. A basketball signed by a former IU Coach was considered priceless!! Those items brought excitement to the live auction, but several smaller items in the silent auction were competitive. A package of spring flowers was popular, as were several hand-made authentic Russian crafts. Artwork including paintings, sculptures, ceramics, and jewelry were popular as well.

More exciting than all these prizes was the relaxed atmosphere that the event provided. It gave all involved the opportunity to socialize, network, and just enjoy one another–a meaningful event for a school whose mission reflects hard work to solve the complex problems of the world. The auction shows that SPEA works hard and plays hard (and raises money for a good cause while doing it)! I can’t wait for next year!

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