Reflections From a First-Time Summit Attendee

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Last summer I was thrilled to be attending The Summit for the first time. Not only was my University hosting here in Minneapolis, but it was my first national conference. I’ve been working at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities for four years and for most of that time I have been actively involved in our financial wellness initiatives. I was excited to have the chance to learn new ideas and meet others who are just as passionate about helping students.

I looked through the sessions and decided on my schedule early (I’m a planner like that), and by the time we were a week out I was getting pretty excited. A few days before The Summit started, one of my co-workers who was slated to present was no longer able to and I was asked to replace her. So in a minute I went from participant to presenter. Definitely a curveball but kind of a fun challenge! I joined my colleague in presenting about our wellness initiatives on campus, along with a walking tour to our offices. Bringing everyone around my home campus and talking about our program was a moment of pride for me. It was great to get questions and feedback from participants right where I work with students every day.

After getting my nerves about presenting out of the way, I focused on learning as much as I could from the rest of the financial wellness experts attending. The sessions and keynotes gave good insight into how I can better serve our whole student population, reinvigorated the work we are doing, and reinforced the need for more personalized resources.

After the summit, I began reflecting on how we can better reach out to our underserved students. How can we better serve student groups like international students, who are often left out of the conversation when we talk to students about things like financial aid and who have different concerns such as how to navigate the American banking system to make a tuition payment? I’m also became interested in integrating the use of technology to engage our students, whether through texting, social media, or student-focused videos. In the past year we have been working on some exciting projects, which we have looked through a new lens based on what I and my colleagues learned at the summit. For example, we began working on a series of videos on various topics specifically suggested by our international students. We are hoping by posting these videos online, incoming international students will feel better prepared when arriving on campus, setting them up for an easier transition to American student life.

I had a great experience at the summit, meeting people from all over the country, learning new things and coming back to my team full of new ideas, not to mention (unexpectedly!) presenting. I’m looking forward to attending again, especially since I get to travel away from home this time and explore a new city!

Kristin Hummel is a One Stop Counselor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has been working as a counselor for four years and has been a part of the University’s financial wellness initiatives for over three years. In her spare time she loves reading historical fiction, knitting, and finding new restaurants to try with her husband Kris and son Finn. Contact Kristin about her summit experience: