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NODA Leadership Spotlight
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Did you know that you can get involved with NODA in numerous ways? There are numerous opportunities to get involved and get connected through NODA. Any professional can serve on the board of directors, or help plan a regional conference, present at an annual conference or write a perspective piece for the Journal of College Orientation and Transition. The NODA Leadership Development Committee is here to help you get connected to the opportunities that exist through NODA. To help you learn more about the value a leadership position can bring to your professional development, we will be featuring a "NODA Leader in the Spotlight.” This month the NODA Leadership Development Committee is featuring Rick Sparks from Virginia Tech University!

NODA Leader
Rick Sparks
Associate Dean of Students/Director, New Student Programs – Virginia Tech

When and why did you join NODA?
I joined NODA in 2003 when I first started at Virginia Tech. Our Dean of Students, who was a former NODA board member, expected me to join NODA and attend OPI.


What leadership positions have you held/currently hold in NODA?

  • Region VIII conference co-host, 2007
  • Region VIII conference co-host, 2011
  • NODA Board of Directors, 2008-2011
  • Co-Chair, Ad hoc on Leadership Restructuring
  • President-Elect, present

Why was getting involved in NODA important to you?
Initially, I don’t think it was. I didn’t come from a "standard” student affairs background so involvement in an association wasn’t the top of my list. Thank goodness it was a priority for our Dean of Students who literally on my first day on the job told me that I was attending this conference in November and I was going to attend this thing called OPI. It didn’t take me long for see how naive I had been. Involvement in NODA is crucial for anyone working in OTR. Having access to both the knowledge base and building relationships to have access to professionals in the field has allowed me to be successful in this position at Virginia Tech. I don’t believe that would have been true without NODA.

Why should a member consider a leadership position in NODA?

The reason NODA works is because of the volunteer leaders in the association. NODA is extremely fortunate to have an incredibly talented home office staff but it takes association members to produce the content for our conferences, drive-ins, web conferences and our journal. We also need leadership to refine and move forward our education and research agendas, plan and implement our regional and annual conferences, coordinate our networks, and we even seek out and develop new association leaders.

NODA is strongest when we have a large, diverse group of members serving in leadership roles. I encourage any member who is interested at all in serving in a leadership position to explore opportunities under the ‘Leadership’ section of the NODA website at www.nodaweb.org.

What have you gained from your leadership positions in NODA?

More than I could express (or that anyone would care to read) in this spotlight – but to boil it down to one item I have to say the biggest thing I’ve gained has all come from the relationships I’ve had with other NODA members. The work has taught me an incredible amount but at the end of the day it’s the relationships with people that have challenged me, changed my thinking, and made me a better professional.

What is your favorite NODA related memory?

Oh man – there are so many, but the one that sticks out to me was when we were in Anaheim CA for NODAC. Jon Mark Bernal, Allison Ragon, Kate Kraus and I went to dinner one night during the conference. At the time, we were all on the board and as a result had been in Anaheim for a number of days so this dinner was out chance to get away for a few hours and relax. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as much at any time in my life than I did that night. In addition to having a great time, that night was when Kate told us that she was expecting her first child. That’s when I realized that through this work some of these NODA acquaintances turn into close friendships – close enough to share major life events with – that’s pretty cool!

Not a super interesting NODA memory to read but the one that sticks out to me.

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9/30/2016
2016 Michigan Drive-In Conference

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