By Katlyn Alves, CCNYPA*VISTA Leader
Service. Action. Advocacy. Those are the three pillars on which the IMPACT National Conference stands. The IMPACT conference holds a 35-year history of bringing together student leaders and activists, higher education administrators, nonprofit professionals, and national service year members (such as AmeriCorps*VISTAs). Conference participants share stories, tools, and resources with each other and leave inspired to create positive change within higher education and within their greater communities.
I greatly enjoyed attending my second IMPACT conference this year. The 2019 conference was held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. My favorite sessions this year included local student activist keynote speakers and panelists who fought against White Supremacy embedded within their school district or University and who also organized against the deadly Unite the Right rally which descended on Charlottesville in August of 2017. Their conviction and resiliency to fight for racial equity is truly inspiring.
The IMPACT conference is unique because it uplifts so many excellent student leaders. Most of the conference workshops are led by college students who are doing impressive work to change their campuses and communities for the better. This year I presented a workshop entitled, "More Than I Do: LGBTQIA+ Advocacy in the Era of Marriage Equality." It was great to see my workshop attendees brainstorm with each other about what issues and supports they see for the LGBTQ+ communities back on their campuses and how they can become more involved. The most rewarding part of my presentation, however, was when I received an email later that night from a closeted trans woman who thanked me for creating such an inclusive space for her within the conference.
I highly encourage you to attend the next IMPACT conference. If funds for registration, travel, and lodging are a barrier for you, then I encourage you to apply to IMPACT's Planning Committee in the spring. Planning Committee members help coordinate the conference each year and receive free registration, hotel stays, and transportation to the conference. I hope to see you at IMPACT next year at Arizona State University!