OWL Talks

Why Attending Conferences Enhances Your College Experience

Posted by Kelly Hart on Feb 3, 2017 11:27:00 AM

Students talkingExperiences that students have outside of the classroom contribute to their growth, networking and overall tranformation. Attending conference is one of the experiences that Westfield students have that is life-changing.

Twelve students from the Athletic Training Program at Westfield State attended the 69th Eastern Athletic Trainers Association (EATA) Meeting and Clinical Symposium. This year’s event was held in Philadelphia, PA.  The EATA is composed of members from the two eastern-most Districts of the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA), which is our professional organization.

Students working togetherFor many of these Westfield students, this is their first experience at such a large and prestigious sports medicine event. Over 1600 Certified Athletic Trainers and athletic training students attended a variety of workshops, lectures and observed academic posters.  The conference offered presentation tracks for professionals and a special program for students. The topics presented varied from new diagnostic procedures for concussions and orthopedic joint evaluations, to nutrition for elite performance, to the latest clinical research on psychological implications and post-surgical treatment strategies. Read on to learn more about their experiences at this conference.

From Brittany Auclair – Senior Athletic Training major

Student name tagThis program allowed me to grow both academically and professionally. Listening to presentations that I found interesting on topics that related to interests of mine like Sports Psychology and attending hands-on workshops for Lumbar Mobilization techniques helped advance my knowledge beyond the classroom and clinical setting. During this conference, I also had the opportunity to speak with other professionals who were once in my shoes. After listening to and taking their advice, I hope to be as successful as them one day. Throughout this experience, I did feel a little out of my comfort zone, but it did allow me to find my strengths and weaknesses as a student and a young professional. For the future, attending this conference, allows me to grow as a soon-to-be college graduate entering the professional world.

 From Danielle Hunt – Senior Athletic Training major

Speaker panel

Day 1:

The student taping contest was first on our student program agenda. Groups of students from various NATA District 1 and 2 schools signed up to be in the contests. Next was the Student Quiz Bowl. This is a Jeopardy-like game of professional knowledge with a very vocal crowd and plenty of school support. The questions were great to get a feel for the upcoming Board of Certification exam.


Day 2:

An early wake-up call got us up and ready. We put on what we felt was our most professional outfits, packed our bags with resumes, and left the hotel ready to go. The student program set up a morning of three 50-minute presentations. The topics were mental health, the future of ACL reconstructions, and athletic trainers in the performing arts. After the presentations concluded, we headed to the exhibition hall to check out the student posters. There were undergraduate as well as graduate work presented. We saw first-hand how a direct and interesting topic/title is important. We’re working in one of our senior classes to have our own posters here next year. 

Panel of speakers Westfield students

For the reminder of the day, the Westfield group split paths. Some ventured out into the snowy city for sight-seeing, others to different presentations, or the Reading Terminal Market for a long lunch. Regardless of the path we chose to take, we all had a blast. I returned to the conference for the Leadership Roundtable Discussion. This discussion was the most informational part of the conference for me. We were lucky enough to have a panel of EATA and NATA leaders. All of the leaders gave informative details on everything from how to get involved with EATA, become a leader, and how to do your best in an interview. The panel was very raw with their answers, which made the students feel comfortable in asking questions. Following this leadership discussion were the State Meetings.


Saturday night’s schedule was reserved for the EATA Banquet. Many awards and scholarships were given out throughout the night. We sat with some other students from other schools that we had met earlier that day.

Day 3:

On our last day at the conference, students were given the choice of two workshops: Wrist Mobilizations or Lumbar Mobilizations. The Westfield State students split in half and got the chance to experience exactly what we wanted. We started with the basics of the anatomy and directional mobilizations. This was followed with a hands-on lab.

Concluding the conference was the student raffle. A few lucky Owls won a med kit and bag! These were a nice addition to a great weekend. With one last stop at the Reading Terminal Market to get a Philly Cheesesteaks, we were headed out on our ride home.

9.jpgThank you EATA’s!

Topics: Academic conferences

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