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WVU's Strong Showing at NIRSA Conference

NIRSA Photo
Photo Credits: Corrine Pruett | WVU Students, GA’s and Staff at NIRSA Region II Conference

Written by: Kaity Amador | WVUGo Staff Writer

WVU sent 20 students, staff and graduate assistants to this year’s NIRSA Region II Conference. Learn more about NIRSA, the Region II Conference and gain some insight on key student takeaways from the experience. 

NIRSA: Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, is an association comprised of collegiate professionals and leaders that are invested in growing the collegiate campus recreation and health and wellbeing industries. NIRSA serves as the primary resource for fostering the education of undergraduates and graduate students, while continuing education for collegiate recreation professionals throughout their careers. NIRSA also governs and sets standards for what collegiate campus recreation does in their industry. Founded in 1950, NIRSA has grown to 4,500 dedicated professionals, students, and businesses, serving an estimated 8.1 million students in total (NIRSA, 2019). West Virginia University has been a long-time institutional member of the organization and has recently invested great resources and efforts in getting WVU students and faculty involved with the organization. 

Nine WVU undergraduate students, five campus recreation staff and six graduate assistants attended the NIRSA Region II Annual Conference this past October, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Normally universities only send a few representatives to this conference, so for WVU to have twenty students and staff in attendance was a testament to how involved and dedicated WVU staff are to NIRSA. Of the nine WVU students who attended, eight of them received scholarships from the university that helped pay for the associated expenses in attending the NIRSA conference. Emily Murphy and Mitch Plumer, two WVU undergraduate students, were both awarded the 2019 Region II Excellence Endowment Scholarship from NIRSA. This scholarship awards collegiate recreation student members, for their dedication and commitment to leadership among their campuses. 

NIRSA Photo 2
9 WVU Students Who Attended the NIRSA Region ll Conference

Each student who received a scholarship, whether from WVU or NIRSA, had to present on their overall experience which highlighted their takeaways from the conference. For most of the undergraduate students, they have never previously attended the NIRSA conference, and they were able to learn more about campus recreation as a whole, what the professional opportunities are within the industry and moreover, they were able to network with other professional leaders. Some students were so heavily impacted by their experience at the conference, they changed their career paths and directions. 

Corey Accord, an undergraduate student who works in operations at the Student Recreation Center (SRC) and received a scholarship from WVU, presented at the NIRSA Conference, “10 Qualities Needed to be an Effective Supervisor.” After presenting in front of professionals in his field, Accord felt he was able to set an example for other students in encouraging them to present in the future. “I feel the presentation separated me among other undergraduate students at the conference and therefore made those who I lead respect me a little more. After I presented, a couple of my coworkers said that they intend to present at next year’s conference and for me to  give them enough confidence to present, means I’ve done my job as a leader,” states Accord. He also feels that this conference has enhanced his leadership and communication skills, overall making him an effective leader and bringing value to the Campus Recreation team. 

Austin Grant, another undergraduate student who received a WVU scholarship and works in Aquatics at the SRC, spoke to how this conference was able to add value to his education, his team at the SRC and his professional career. Grant enjoyed how the conference and trip was able to bring him closer to his coworkers and others in his field of interest. “What stuck out to me the most was that there are so many other people as passionate about Campus Recreation as I am, and it was great to be able to talk to them and connect over something—being able to “geek out” with [them],” states Grant. 

The 2019 NIRSA Region II Conference was successful in bringing multiple Campus Recreation staff closer and developing their leadership skills. Corrine Pruett, Operations and Events Coordinator at the SRC, believes that bringing her staff to the NIRSA conference has been an eye-opening experience, fully embraced the students and staff in attendance. By investing the time and resources in her staff, she has seen them grow and flourish as individuals and a team. Pruett states, “there is a lot of growth… that is translating to our student staff, which then [will] positively impacts our patrons and in turn the West Virginia community.” This growth is a culmination of WVU and Campus Recreations’ investment in students and staff. And the NIRSA Conference is just the tip of the iceberg. The Campus Recreation department is changing and is positively affecting the future of Campus Recreation. “Overall our department is just in a really exciting place ... to see it trickle down and impact our students is really important,” states Pruett.


About the Author

KaityKaity has served as a writer for the WVUGo Media team since August 2019. She is a senior, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Marketing with an area of emphasis in Digital Marketing Promotions expected to graduate from West Virginia University (WVU) in May 2020.


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