By Tanner Harris
Student athletes and administrators alike gathered at the Kegley Center on Sunday, Oct. 1st for the annual National Association of Academic and Student-Athlete Development Professionals (N4A) Region V Conference.
The event was co-hosted by Taft College and organized by CSU Bakersfield, Bakersfield College, and other universities to promote academic and athletic excellence for student athletes and celebrate racial, sexual, and other types of diversity among its ranks.
Kayleigh McCauley, director of Region 5 Athletics and Student-Athlete Development at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon, gave the opening speech.
“We are among champions of change in the world of athletics. Sport is a historical platform for societal transformation, and it is our responsibility to cultivate environments where our student athletes thrive,” said McCauley.
Dena Freeman-Patton, deputy athletics director at CSUB, commented on the scope and aim of the event, where many representatives from several states and institutions were present and represented.
“The goal is to have a discussion about how to best support student-athletes on our campuses. It’s all about academics and student development, but it’s also about making them a well-rounded person. It’s really exciting.” said Freeman-Patton.
Over one-hundred people attended the event from a number of different universities, including some from other Region V states such as Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington.
Melissa Bowen, assistant director of Academic Support at CSUB, was a fundamental part of putting the event together. Bowen worked with a team to make the event possible.
“It was definitely a team effort. We got together every two weeks, [but] a lot of the logistics I pretty much took care of,” said Bowen.
“I’m really excited [about this event]… because we really want to show off what we’ve done.”
Tony Thompson, an academic advisor for student athletes and professor of physical education at Taft College, said that he really enjoyed this year’s theme.
“I think [celebrating diversity is] an outstanding conference theme,” said Thompson.
He also serves as the president of the College Community Counselors/Advisors Academic Association for Athletics (3C4A).
“It’s something that’s going on nationwide in all areas and certainly in college athletics… especially given the current climate in our country,” said Thompson.
McCauley was very impressed with the overall conference and praised the teams behind organizing it. “[It is] a professional development opportunity… with great content that’s accessible to individuals here in California,” said McCauley.
For McCauley, the annual conference is a step in the right direction.
“For me, as a professional, it’s important to work with young people… to develop them as individuals so they can make a difference.”