Professional Development Scholarship Recipient – Valerie Kielmovitch Mandel

I had the great pleasure of attending the 2017 CSI East Conference this past August at George Mason University. A few colleagues had attended in the past and came back raving about the experience and professional growth they experienced. Reflecting back on my involvement, they were definitely correct.

Right from the beginning, the conference had a different atmosphere than any other I have experienced due to the smaller number of attendees (around 70) and the friendliness of everyone there.  The conference started off with a panel of various recruiters from a variety of employers including EY, American Red Cross, Enterprise Holdings, Travelers Insurance, Citibank and MAXIMUS. They gave insights to all of us career professionals on some of the reasoning behind recruiting at specific institutions, advice for career services staff and their view of the future of college recruiting. We then had round table discussion time with the recruiters as well to ask more specific questions.

This was followed by Skill Sessions discussing topics ranging from embracing change, a behind the scenes look at college recruiting through the employer lens, assessment and finally talent disruption in the emerging workplace. All of these were very hands on sessions with lots of time for critical thinking and asking questions.

The unique aspect of this conference came later in the day when we formed our Job Alike Sessions which consisted of about 15 people with similar job types. We each had approximately 5 minutes to share a best practice from our office and give a handout to take back to our respective institutions. These were extremely interesting and well received. It was fascinating to hear what was going on at other institutions and how their best practices could be modified and implemented at my campus. We also had two faculties in the group, one a seasoned career services professional and one employer. They were able to give great insight and depth to our conversations.

There was plenty of time to network with other professionals and learn about each other’s institutions. Overall, this was a great experience and I left with many new ideas. I was very thankful to have been selected for the SoACE Professional Development Scholarship which allowed me to attend this conference.


Valerie Kielmovitch Mandel is the Director within the Career Services Office at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University- Daytona Beach. She has worked in the Career Services office at ERAU since 2010. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Central Florida and her Master of Education specializing in Higher Education and Student Affairs at the University of South Carolina. Valerie has a diverse background in the field of higher education from residence life to career services.


Who doesn’t love the 80’s?  Okay, so maybe you don’t miss your hairdo and perhaps old pictures make you cringe, but a good 80’s concert is hard to turn down!  With so many festivals and celebrations in San Antonio and south Texas, there are bands, bands, bands, and it’s hard to keep up. During my first year living in San Antonio, everyone kept talking about the Spazmatics; and I kept wondering, what’s the big deal, there’s tons of 80’s cover bands.  Well, as they say, everything is bigger and better in Texas!  I first saw the Spazmatics at Oyster Bake, a signature annual event during San Antonio’s citywide Fiesta celebration.  O.M.G. They are not only spot-on with the songs, but they put on a FUN concert!

In summer 2014, the SoACE Board met in Austin for the first time to begin planning for the 2015 annual conference.  Since they are based in Austin, I knew the Spazmatics play regularly, so I had to check their tour dates and sure enough, they were at an outdoor music venue walking distance from the hotel.  Super excited, I somehow convinced the Board of the group bonding and team building experience this would be for us : )  Skeptics at first from the name Spazmatics, the Board had a great time, loved the band, and brought the idea back to the 2015 conference committee to look into securing the group for that conference closing.  Attempted but not secured, so many of us were disappointed not to share this fun experience with the entire SoACE organization.

Just announced last week, the Spazmatics will be at the “Night in Old San Antonio” closing conference evening in December!  Mark your calendar so you are sure not to miss this especially talented group, as it will no doubt be a fun and memorable event!

Amy Diepenbrock
SoACE Professional Development Director, 2013-2015

Letter from the President – Ray Rogers

Our 10-year anniversary event in December will be quite a milestone; looking back from where we have come since that time and what the future may hold.  We return to the place of our very first conference in 2007, the beautiful Riverwalk in San Antonio. Fittingly, Building Bridges to Opportunities is the theme for this special conference year and precisely captures the essence of our association’s mission. The Conference Committee is busy putting together what I believe will be one of the best SoACE conferences yet. From our keynote speakers, to some unique innovations in educational and networking sessions, you are definitely going to notice we stepped it up this year.  And, if you thought last year’s Tuesday night celebration was exciting, just wait until you see what we have in store this year.  Conference registration is now open and hotel rooms are filling up quickly.  I encourage you to make plans now to attend.

I also wanted to announce some changes within the SoACE board leadership.  Two board directors stepped down earlier this summer resulting from changes in their work roles.  Jamie Gaertner has moved to a new role with Enterprise that would also keep her from fulfilling her role as Director – Diversity and inclusion, and Alicia Jackson left Oklahoma State last month, starting a new position outside of the field that will keep her from being able to complete her role as Director – Membership Development and Retention.  We are extremely appreciative of the time and talent Jamie and Alicia have given to SoACE and will certainly miss them.  I am happy to announce that Kelvin Rutledge, from the University of Georgia, has agreed to step in as Director – Diversity and Inclusion, and Elizabeth Boggs, from Stetson University, will be serving as the Director – Membership Development and Retention.  We are excited to have them on the leadership team.

For many of us, the beginning of the 2017-18 school year will be remembered by hurricanes.  Both Harvey and Irma hit hard within the SoACE footprint.  From first-hand experience from my many years of living in both Florida and Texas, I know how deep the impact of these storms can be, and the toll they can take on our personal and work lives.  My most sincere hope that everyone is safe, housed, and dry.  Here’s to a hurricane-free remainder of the season.

Raymond Rogers
2017-2018 SoACE President
St. Edward’s University
Career & Professional Development