Today we have an entry from guest blogger Katie Kirschner. Katie is a first year MPA/MSES student.
My Experience Day weekend began when I pulled up to Lana’s apartment early that Thursday evening. Lana, a current SPEA student at the time, had generously offered her apartment to me while I was in Bloomington. Once I was settled, we changed into our formalwear and got ready for the evening. I was very nervous and anxious about the Gala and did not know what to expect of the evening’s events. All of the prospective students met in the SPEA atrium and we carpooled over to the Union where the event was being held. As I walked into Alumni Hall, I remember how grand and elegant it looked that night. Once I started talking with other students, I quickly started to feel at home. Everyone was excited about that evening and the following day, and it was easy to see that current students were proud to be part of SPEA.
Lizzie, now a 3rd year SPEA student, was my small group leader and made me feel very welcome right from the start. I met many other prospective students, as well as current students, and enjoyed the diverse and engaging conversations I had throughout the evening. There were cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, as well as delicious desserts. I was surprised to learn that so many professors and faculty were there to support the event and mingle with students. Much of the live entertainment was even put on by the faculty!
Tables were set up along one side of the hall with silent auction items, including everything from gift card packages to jewelry to a night out. I had fun looking at everything that had been donated and even more fun when the live auction began. I had never witnessed a live auction before, and this was very entertaining. Professors offered things like dancing lessons and a group sushi lesson, and community members had donated things such as event tickets or tangible items. I had a great time watching people bid on things; the atmosphere was so energetic and lively.
The Gala turned out to be a really fun evening and I was glad that I was able to attend. Current students were friendly and it was great to meet them in such an engaging way. I was able to ask questions about the program, their experiences, and opportunities in a relaxed and one-on-one environment. Also, after I had accepted my admittance to SPEA and had questions about renting an apartment, I had several people I could contact for tips and advice. The gala was not only a great way to gain a broader perspective of SPEA, but it was a great way to get to know others with similar interests and aspirations.
A note from SPEA’s Masters Program Office (MPO): This year, the SPEA Gala/Auction will be held on Friday night of Experience Day, instead of on Thursday evening before. We expect the Gala to feel more comfortable for all prospective students, as they reconnect with new peers and faculty met throughout Experience Day!