December Member Spotlight | Kirsty Wadsley

The December member spotlight is on Kirsty Wadsley MAUA, Head of Widening Participation at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  Kirsty represented the AUA at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (ACCRAO) Conference and is also an AUA Advocate.

Why did you do it?

I have been an AUA member for almost a decade and presented at a number of AUA events, but never thought my membership would enable me to present internationally.  I had already been developing links in North America for my work back here in the UK, so the opportunity to represent the AUA at the AACRAO Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) conference was ideal to further develop my connections and learn more about the concept of SEM.  I was fortunate enough to get accepted as one of two AUA representatives at SEM 2017 where I presented a poster about how we work to widen participation (WP) across the student lifecycle in the UK. This was of interest to a number of attendees who were unaware of our work here on WP and could see how this links to key initiatives within the USA and Canada.

What have you gained from the opportunity?

The connections I’ve made have been the greatest benefit. My fellow SEM 17 AUA representative, John Burgess and I recently presented together at the AUA Autumn Conference as a result of this connection. Via Skype I have also kept in contact with colleagues in the USA. My practice, understanding, and strategic developments have been shaped significantly by attending SEM and engaging with AACRAO. This has included collaborating across the Atlantic with one of the key-note presenters from SEM 17 (Dr Tricia Seifert), the outcomes of which we presented back at SEM in October this year. Tricia and I won a research award from AACRAO for our presentation “Transatlantic game play: supporting higher education access and student success”, we’re both very proud of this!

Would you recommend the opportunity?

Absolutely! I have always believed in the power of getting experience and knowledge from outside of your usual network and this opportunity was a real insight into the breadth of connections available through the AUA. To represent the AUA overseas was a privilege.

I’ve learnt more about the AUA and the Association’s reciprocal partnerships as a result and have subsequently become an AUA advocate to encourage more colleagues to take up AUA membership and the opportunities available. Being an AUA advocate has broadened my local network too!

Putting yourself forward for opportunities can seem daunting but I always try and ask myself ‘what have you got to lose?’. I can safely say I lost nothing and gained a huge amount, ‘thank you AUA!’. If anyone is thinking about it in the future, my advice would be, ‘do it without hesitation’ (and you’re welcome to contact me to find out more if you want to)!

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