By Jamilla Jamison

NACAC is always a great experience for gaining new knowledge, ideas and an opportunity for networking. NACAC San Diego was the largest ever hosted and WACAC was fortunate enough to have 900 attendees for its membership meeting! During the WACAC membership meeting, I was able to give a brief overview of the opportunities for getting involved with the Diversity, Equity & Access Committee (DEA).

What I love about DEA is that it provides WACAC members with a chance to really speak to the later portion of the WACAC mission of “supporting and advancing the work of counseling and enrollment professionals from California and Nevada as they help all students realize their full potential, with emphasis on freshman and transfer transitions to higher education and attention to access and equity for all students.” I had many WACAC members stop me as I finished my mini-update on DEA to let me know they wanted to become more involved or ask for more information. I am sure there are many more out there who’d love to know more about the work DEA is committed to, so I wanted to take this moment to highlight some of our activities.

First, (as you can see from my post) DEA has its own DEA Inclusion blog series on the WACAC website! The intention of the DEA Inclusion series is to highlight issues of diversity, equity, access and inclusion that are facing our communities. New blogs are posted every two weeks and we’ve had a variety of interesting perspectives shared already this year by three of our amazing bloggers!

DEA has the privilege to approve DEA grants for professional development or special projects. The DEA Grants are intended to support individuals with opportunities to attend professional development programs focused on under-served student populations or to create and implement innovative programs that serve under-resourced populations. Admission and counseling professional are encouraged to apply for a DEA Grant for assistance in traveling to conferences such as NCORE or NACAC: Guiding the Way to Inclusion.

Lastly, the DEA committee is charged with coordinating the annual Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access Institute (IDEA Institute) pre-conference workshop that takes place in conjunction with the WACAC Annual Conference. This year’s IDEA Institute will focus on resources for supporting transgender students. We are always searching for more presenters and panelists for the IDEA Institute.

More than anything else, the DEA committee hopes to be able to provide resources for college admission and counseling professionals to encourage and assist students from all backgrounds and communities to pursue higher education.

To that end, I would also like to encourage all WACAC members to participate in NACAC’s Reach Higher Challenge. The Reach Higher initiative is First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. During the 2015-16 school year, NACAC hopes you’ll commit to one additional activity to help improve college access for underrepresented students. What you do is up to you—visit one more high school, host one more college information night, reach out to students you haven’t yet met in your school, ask your school board to designate a “Reach Higher” week, take on an additional student pro bono—the possibilities are endless to make an impact on someone’s life.

The DEA Committee is incredibly motivated and excited to be able to serve the WACAC membership and hope to engage all of you throughout the year!