State of the Art Conference: Back in Person!

Growth and change does not come from one person alone. We grow together in collaboration with others- celebrating the good and working towards better. Over the last three years, I’ve had the opportunity to be part of the planning committees for the State of the Art Conference on Inclusive Postsecondary Education and Individuals with Intellectual Disability, or SOTA, and the Student Leadership Conference (SLC). Throughout this time, I’ve seen growth and change in not only in myself, but in the conferences as a whole. I’ve collaborated with so many students and program staff through my work on the virtual events these past few years, and now I finally get to experience SOTA in person on October 19th and 20th, in Syracuse, NY!

More than ever before, we’ve worked to make YOU a part of this collaboration. We created working committees to include parents, practitioners, faculty, and students from a variety of backgrounds to improve the conference experience for all. Looking at the agenda for this year’s conference, I am hopeful that these efforts have paid off.

Here’s just a few highlights of what to expect when you join us this fall in Syracuse!

Pre-conference Capacity Building Institute on Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) State and Regional Alliances

Some of you may be coming early for the pre-conference event on October 18, the Think College Inclusive Higher Education Network State and Regional Alliances Capacity Building Institute. It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity to connect with each other on how to organize your own statewide and regional IPSE alliances.

Inclusive College Fair

That evening is the Fourth Annual Inclusive College Fair, sponsored by Think College. Families will travel from across the Northeast US (and sometimes much farther!) to explore inclusive college options. There will also be time for campus tours around Syracuse University, with awesome InclusiveU student and peer tour guides. If you have never experienced Fall in Upstate New York, these tours would be a great opportunity to smell the changing leaves and take in the sights (don’t worry, there probably won’t be any Syracuse snow yet)!

Wednesday Morning Welcome!

Everyone will join for breakfast at the Sheraton on Wednesday morning which, after drinking my coffee on a screen with all of you for the past two years, is one of the things I’m looking forward to the most! After a quick welcome, we’ll hear from Valerie C. Williams, the Director of the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. As an inclusive education doctoral student, I am personally thrilled that she is coming to spend the day with us. That will lead us into a collaborative presentation, led by Meg Grigal, on how far inclusive postsecondary education has come over the years - really getting us ready to think about our conference theme: A Decade of Progress at State of the Art: Exploring the Next Frontier of Inclusive Higher Education.

Student Leadership Conference

After an energizing morning, we’ll all break off to get to work. Students will head across the street to the beautiful Schine Student Center, a central space for all students on Syracuse University’s campus and headquarters for the Student Leadership Conference. As our student planning committee has often shared, this is the students’ time to come together with their peers. Eight student presentations were chosen to be shared throughout the two days of SLC on important topics such as relationships, academics, employment, and more. For some of the attendees, this will be their first time on a college campus or their first time with an opportunity to collaborate with other IPSE students and peers in person. There will also be a few opportunities during the conference to hear from self-advocates and do some hands-on self-advocacy work!

SOTA Breakouts

At the same time, our State of the Art attendees will embark on a “choose your own adventure.” Do you want to learn about Effective Transition Supports? Employment? Emerging Research? One of the many other topics on the agenda? Take your pick! This conference is by you, and for you! Experienced practitioners have been selected to lead each breakout session, through an extensive decision-making process with our newly expanded planning committees.

America’s Got Talent – #SLC2022 Edition

The end of Wednesday is usually a highlight for most attendees: the cocktail reception and karaoke party. Everyone will head over to our Schine Student Center for some delicious food, fun, and music! As always, you can choose how much or how little socializing you want to do at the conference. The karaoke night is usually one of the biggest highlights, though! What song are you going to sing?

Day 2

Thursday, or Day 2, as us conference planners have come to call it, will be just as productive as we continue the work of exploring the next frontier of IPSE (no pressure!).

But truly, being back in person, the opportunities are almost endless for collaboration with people who not only understand the importance of inclusive postsecondary education, but who are working constantly to make them better and help them grow. I am so excited to see the energy that all of you will bring in person to SOTA and SLC. See you in October!

About the post author: Katie Ducett (pictured at left, top row, center) is a fourth-year PhD Candidate at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on Inclusive Postsecondary Education and Disability Studies. She currently has a few manuscripts in review and has presented nationally on her work. Katie taught k-12, undergraduate, and graduate courses at different schools and colleges, and recently won the Syracuse University Outstanding TA Award. This is her third year working with the State-of-the-Art and Student Leadership Conferences, and she is so excited to finally see it happen in person!