Since 2001, Meeting of the Minds has been a welcome, exciting, and consistent respite for college prevention professionals. Each year we are challenged to think critically about the unique difficulties that face collegiate staff, faculty, and students. But, along with that challenge, we are also encouraged. Encouraged by the like-minded people who buoy our efforts with the work on their campuses. Encouraged by the data that shows the work we do makes a difference. Encouraged by the eager students who are the faces of the future of prevention work.
Sadly, in early 2020, as the world changed drastically in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Meeting of the Minds was canceled. We rebounded for an extended, all-online version in the spring of 2021. But it was this year, as we finally all gathered safely again, that felt like a welcome, professional return home.
- We were finally able to gather in person! Three years apart felt so long for our like-minded prevention folks to spend apart. We were excited to be engaged in conversation while enjoying being away from the day-to-day patterns of our jobs. Away from the silos where we have been living throughout the pandemic, people used words like rejuvenation, connection, and “Hi! How have you been?!” It was good to be together.
- The repeating themes at each year’s conference often reflect our most pressing challenges. This year was no different. While sessions covered many topics, trending near the top were trauma, mental health, and general well-being as we are all finding our way forward.
- It was wonderful to have such great representation from state agencies and organizations who have responsibilities to many different ages and stages of life. Their willingness to be at Meeting of the Minds, providing us with information and support through their efforts, shows their commitment to the work of college health.
- College prevention work is always searching for the next problem to solve. To recognize what data and topics need attention. To see what needs more attention and effort. While we were thrilled with the topics addressed this year, we recognize that issues of inclusion, diversity, and health equity are focuses we want to spotlight more.
- As much celebrating as we are doing, we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize that while it was great to be together, it was also a little awkward? There were challenges with figuring out how to structure the sessions and space to provide the safest conference possible. It was also many people’s first in-person large gathering since the pandemic. Thank you to everyone willing to ride the awkward wave with us as we navigated this transition!
- Our keynotes are always a highlight both in content and in the collective experience of eating and learning together as professionals. These speakers were well-received this year and provided ample opportunity to learn, laugh, and process with one another. Thanks to all our speakers who provided such valuable space for growth, learning, and togetherness.
- Lastly, a final thank you to those who served as processing session leaders during the lunch hour and those who served informally as a sounding/dreaming board with others. No matter how many years we gather, our staff is always impressed by the creativity and collaboration at MOM.
In closing, thank you for whatever role you played at this year’s 2022 Meeting of the Minds College Prevention Conference. We were so glad to have the opportunity to meet in person, reconnect with old colleagues, see the new faces who will support our future efforts, and find our way forward together.
Until April of 2023, please know that we continue to be here for you as you do the important work of college health and prevention. Please reach out anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org!
April 27, 2022 by Anne Rulo, FB/IG/Twitter @annemrulo