My First ASCA Conference
“Should I still go? Will I enjoy myself? It’s only $289 that I’ll lose!!! Plus it’s only my first ASCA Conference, so I won’t know what I’m really missing, because I have nothing to compare it to!!! Who wants to go to a conference like that alone??? At least I purchased insurance on my flight!!!” That was the conversation I had with myself the Wednesday evening before I was scheduled to leave for Los Angeles.
That Wednesday, I was hit with some unexpected news from a friend of mine, and for reasons unbeknownst to me, I wasn’t able to stay with her as planned, after my initial roommate backed out a month prior. Here I am, scheduled to leave for Los Angeles in two days, and I now had nowhere to stay. I tossed and turned all night long, because now one of the things I had been looking forward to for months, appeared to be falling apart right before my very eyes.
The next morning, I prayed, and I reached out to a few people in the Professional School Counselors of Color Facebook Group because I had seen posts where group members were looking for roommates. Unfortunately, by the time I’d actually saw the posts, they had already found their roommates. With tears in my eyes, I called my mom to vent. As I was talking, she was on the other end researching hotels in the Downtown Los Angeles area. By the time we got off the phone, I had a room at a hotel right downtown, less than five minutes away, all paid for…thanks to my momma!!!
Although everything started to look up again, I immediately began to feel such great anxiety. Why you may ask!!! It’s because I’m an introvert, and I knew going to this conference alone would force me to step out of my comfort zone.
As I made my journey to Los Angeles, I prayed that God would give me the courage to step out of my comfort zone, that will help me make the necessary career connections as well as make some lifelong friends.
After settling into the hotel, I decided to go back to the lobby to people watch, and I overheard a young lady tell the front desk workers that she was from Philadelphia. That revelation caused me to perk up because I’m from the Philadelphia area. Once she finished handling her business, I mustered up the courage to introduce myself. Not only was she from Philadelphia, but I learned that we lived in the same area. Talk about a small world.
After we hung out that night, I went back to my room and posted in the PSCOC Facebook Group, because I felt comfortable enough now to put myself out there, but I didn’t receive any hits initially!!! However, the next day people were calling my name, walking up to me hugging and loving on me!!! Now, I must admit, I was taken aback at first because I was thinking to myself who are these people, how do they know me and why are they touching me!!! But the love NEVER stopped!!! Then it hit me, these are my PSCOC family members!!! Immediately, I felt such confidence and felt ok with stepping out of my little comfort zone.
As a first timer, I walked away with so many resources and many new friends. I also walked away feeling empowered!!! Not only did I feel empowered enough to step out of my box, get out of my own way, but this experience has reminded me of the students that I will be blessed and privileged to serve this school year, that may be in a new, uncomfortable space to let them know that I too understand how they feel and that I will help see them through.
I had no idea what to expect attending the ASCA Conference for the first time by myself, but what I can say is this, had it not been for the Professional School Counselors of Color Family, I would not have had such an amazing experience!!! PSCOC, I thank you for being true to the professional…warm, open, inviting, and accepting!!! I pray that you all have an amazing school year!!!
Ms. na’Khia S. Washington
Elementary School Counselor
West Philadelphia Achievement Charter Elementary School