Casey Kensey, assistant director of student activities at Eastern Connecticut State University, as well as eight Campus Activity Board (CAB) student coordinators at Eastern, attended the annual regional conference of the National Association of Campus Activities (NACA) in Hartford from Oct. 30-Nov. 2.
Dane Paracuelles ’15 won the Ken M. Bedini Student Leadership Award. As CAB manager he is responsible for CAB’s daily operations, as well as CAB staff training excursions, team-building exercises and the annual CAB banquet. The award is named after Ken Bedini, Eastern’s vice president of student affairs, who once served as director of student activities at Eastern. He had such a positive impact on the department and on campus activities in the region that NACA created the award in his honor. Bedini presents the award four winners every year.
“It’s definitely a big moment of pride for him and Eastern’s Division of Student Affairs to be able to give the award to an Eastern student,” said Kensey, who works with the Campus Activity Board to implement and execute campus-wide programs. Eastern students also won the Bedini Award in 2009 and 2010. The award recognizes outstanding contributions of undergraduate student leaders in the region who are making a difference at their institutions. Award recipients must demonstrate a strong record of holding leadership positions, have made meaningful contributions to their communities and have demonstrated leadership skills and abilities. “I was nominated by my advisor as well as other members of CAB. This was such a humbling experience because I didn’t know that I was nominated,” Paracuelles said. “I am proud that I was able to represent Eastern because I owe all my successes to the opportunities the University has given me.”
Eastern’s Campus Activity Board also won one of the conference’s four Excellence in Programming Awards. To do so, they had to submit a packet detailing the quality of their organization and the programs they sponsored in the past year. A group of 16 finalists was chosen from the pool of applicants to compete for the award by describing their efforts to a panel of judges at the conference. “This is the third time in a row we have been able to win this award,” said Paracuelles. “The team worked very hard prior to the conference to perfect our presentation in a fun and creative way.”
Eastern’s students presented the summary of their year’s work in the form of a fake cooking show titled “What’s in the CABinet?”
“It was a memorable performance, and really stuck out to the judges and everyone who watched it,” said Kensey “They went along with the theme of this year’s conference which was “Mixing it Up: The Secret Ingredients of Programming.” As CAB manager, Paraculles spoke for the board when he explained that, “we felt that the real achievement was not just winning the award, but coming together as a group to put on such great events and being able to share them with other schools across the Northeast.”
Eastern’s CAB coordinators learn and get new ideas from the conference that they bring back to campus to improve future events and better contribute to the campus. They meet new performers to book and bring to campus and also network with other schools in the area, such as the University of Connecticut and Central Connecticut State University, who were also in attendance, to book performers around the same time. This lowers the cost for each school for bringing performers to their individual campuses.
The conference also provides the opportunity to network with programming boards at other schools to trade ideas and advice. The CAB coordinators attend educational sessions where they learn ways of improving their events—ways to increase attendance at events, working within limited budgets and more.
“A lot of students who have played a big role in CAB go into the student activities field after graduation because of their positive experience with it,” Kensey said.