Guide to GWI

Here are a few tips from our current and former GWI Faculty for first time attendees: 

  • Suzi Nam, Search Associate, with Napier Executive Search: My advice is to try to meet as many people as possible. The folx you meet at GWI will most likely become lifelong colleagues, friends and mentors, so make the most of the times you have to connect with others.  
  • Mosadi Porter, Associate Dean, Admissions and Outreach, Lone Star College – University Park: Engage as much as possible. You will only get out the conference as much as you put in. 
  • Donnell Wiggins, Associate Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission at the University of Dayton: I would encourage all first-timers to embrace the moment because there is no conference in the country like GWI! There’s so much to learn and so many people to connect with. Embrace every experience and interaction because it will help you as you grow. GWI conference will help you embrace your authentic self through this profession! 
  • Curtis Ferguson, Associate Director of Admission, University of Southern California: My advice for a first-time attendee will be to make sure they bring business cards.  GWI Is a great conference to network. 
  • Heather Wofford, Senior Assistant Director of Admissions for Multicultural Recruitment at Oregon State University: Take this opportunity to get to know the people in the room. Swap business cards or social media handles so you can stay in touch. GWI is a great conference to expand your network, so step out of your comfort zone and meet you people. Then follow up with those people once you leave. Keep the conversation going after the conference.  
  • Brandon Mack, Interim Director of Operations of the International ACAC: Don’t be afraid to share your perspective. It can seem that the only opinions that should be shared are seasoned ones, but that is far from true. We all bring our own perspectives and experiences and they are all valid. If we are really going to achieve equity, inclusion, and access it is going to take all of us collectively working together to do so. Therefore, make sure you speak up and out from your perspective and don’t be afraid to do so. GWI is a welcoming environment and we want you and your perspective 

We also recommend you read NACAC’s DEI Challenges in College Admissions Report (Free)

The GWI Faculty have highlighted a few key points:  

  • Brandon: The section on the importance of encouraging men of color to go into the college admission profession. Our profession needs to set the table so that men of color feel welcomed and can thrive in the college admission profession before we encourage them to come to the table. As a queer man of color who has worked in this field for the past 13 years, I can definitely say that I haven’t felt welcomed in the profession overall. I have been blocked from professional development opportunities. I have felt that all aspects of my intersections have been disrespected while also being tokenized. I stay in the profession because of the importance of representation but I do find it very difficult to encourage other men of color to enter the profession because of the hurdles that are present and the lack of intentional action to directly address and fix the problems for many men of color. There is a lack of advancement within the profession. There is a lack of appreciation for the uniqueness and the gifts that we bring. So before we encourage men of color to come into the profession, lets fix the profession so that men of color will want to be a part of it. 
  • Heather:  “Participants shared that the counseling and admission field needs additional diversification, among staff and particularly among leadership.” 

This furthers the point of why GWI is important. Many leaders of color in our profession attend the conference and speak providing others with the opportunity to learn and find mentors with similar backgrounds that they may not have access to at their institutions. GWI provides the type of networking and professional development that can help historically underrepresented staff develop leadership skills and propel them into those elevated positions. 

  • Suzi: ”What stood out to me in the White Paper is how much work is urgently needed to actually change systemic discrimination and oppression. While it is wonderful that people felt heard, and that some will be more ‘mindful’ about how they behave, translating awareness into action is critical to moving us forward.  The following excerpt is what I was reacting to: “”It is difficult to determine the effectiveness of DEI task forces and committees. One high school counseling participant stated, “we have action committees, and it is a lot of talk, but no action.” On the other hand, another counseling participant shared that a student-organized campus discussion following the George Floyd murder with students, staff, and faculty following a film viewing was “powerful.” Underserved students of color shared their perspectives and experiences and faculty listened; “students felt heard.” Faculty “learned to be mindful about how their actions impact people.” The event “opened up awareness and inspired more conversation and understanding in different communities.”  
  • Curtis: “DEI is a factor in choosing a college for all students, according to a recent poll (Jaschik, 2021). Students reported “actively pursuing information about DEI on campuses,” and found this information “impactful” in their decisions about where to apply and enroll. “ 
  • Donnell: “As higher education and world becomes more diverse the DEI challenges white paper talks “about the importance of increasing diversity among admissions/counseling professionals. It states that students need to see themselves reflected in the faces of post-secondary educators.” “The more diversity we can encourage and postsecondary admissions officers the greater our ability to attract and relate to diverse student populations.” “We have the power to change the status quo hiring practices that exist in higher education and secondary education students need to be inspired by the representation that they see that both the high school level and the college level.” If not they will opt out.”