The 2019 national conference in Indianapolis was my fifth NCAN conference. As the database administrator at NCAN, I get to see the attendee numbers rise each week when conference registration opens in early May.
Many of the names and organizations entered into the registration system have become regular fixtures on my computer screen as I scroll down the list of registrants and see names and organizations I recognize. NCAN members such as 10,000 Degrees, Michigan College Access Network, Project Grad Akron, the NativityMiguel Coalition, and San Antonio Education Partnership, to name just a few, continue to send staff to the NCAN conference every year. With regulars like these as well as many new attendees, we saw our highest-ever number of registrants.
Over 1,100 individuals from almost 600 different community-based organizations, higher education institutions, school districts, foundations, and other partners attended the two-and-a-half-day event. Fifty-seven percent of the attendees were NCAN members, and 64% of those in attendance were first-time conference-goers.
We had nearly a complete representation from all states, with the exception of South Dakota. That’s a pretty good turnout for our first time hosting the event in Indianapolis.
It’s always nice to see familiar names and faces of attendees coming to the conference, but what’s even more heartwarming is what I witness from behind the registration desk. I saw old friends and colleagues embracing each other with excitement. I saw people approaching each other with broad smiles and warm handshakes as they meet for the first time after speaking on the phone. I heard attendees and exhibitors exchanging valuable information on services, products, and personal experiences to help each other find better solutions for meeting the needs of students.
While I may mainly see names and numbers on a computer screen, these live, in-person moments are what makes the conference most memorable.