President's Letter

January 29, 2020 7:48 PM | Lisa Gaudette (Administrator)

Dear SSEA members and friends,

During the question-and-answer session that followed my presidential address at our conference in Toronto last October, I asked those in attendance how many were first-time attendees.  I was surprised (but elated) at the show of hands.  Since that time, I have wondered numerous times what we can do to make sure these first-time attendees become members (if not already) and stay with us.  I also had the opportunity to participate in a question-and-answer session with emerging scholars where I felt not only their energy and hopes, but also some of their concerns and fears.  I remembered being in their shoes so, like my thoughts about the first-time attendees, I wondered how we can support them and make them long-term members of our organization. As I’ve pondered these questions, I have thought about why I am part of our organization and why my experience at our meetings in Toronto was so meaningful to me. At the conference, I heard new ideas and research from people I did not previously known but from whom I learned a great deal. I had dinners with graduate students and watched with admiration as they took strides in their professional development as they presented their work. I took part in meetings with the organization’s leadership and saw how deeply they care about the organization and its members. I forged new research collaborations and friendships. I was able to catch up with people who have become wonderful friends since I first met each of them because of my membership in SSEA. In reflecting on all of these experiences, I realized that I wasn’t just a member of an organization but rather part of a community. I am a member of several professional organizations, but it was reaffirmed to me why this is my professional home. So I think back to all of those first-time attendees, graduate students, and emerging scholars and wonder, again, how we can make SSEA their professional home and help all members experience a sense of community.  How can we invite others to likewise join our community?

First, I think we can try to meet people’s professional needs. There are many reasons why individuals may join a professional organization.  The reasons may include wanting discounted registration rates for a conference, hoping to find scholars who study similar topics, acquiring access to journals, being part of an organization that reflects one’s professional identity, becoming part of a community, finding opportunities to serve, and many others. There are many organizations competing to be the ones to fulfill those professional needs for potential members. Towards that end, we are trying our best to enhance what we can offer our members and those who may be looking for a professional home. In an attempt to connect members with others who study what they do, we continue to expand the number of topic networks we offers and we hold regular thematic conferences (including this year’s meeting on “close relationships in emerging adulthood” to be held in Milan, Italy, May 27-29th).   Furthermore, we will continue to hold these thematic conferences outside of the United States in hopes of meeting the academic needs of members from around the world who may not be able to travel to our conferences in the United States and Canada. Additionally, to help the academic needs of as many emerging and international scholars as possible, we will continue to devote funds to travel grants. We are also developing a small-grant initiative to help fund some of their research. Also, in hopes of being able to better meet the needs of members and to visually display what we might offer those searching for a professional home, we are initiating plans to redesign our website.  Finally, the wonderful efforts over the years of editors, associate editors, editorial board members, and reviewers have made it possible for us to offer a journal that will soon have an impact factor.  These are just some of the things we are doing in an attempt to meet the plethora of needs that professionals interested in emerging adulthood may be searching for in an organization.
While grants, conferences, journals, and websites may help meet some specific needs, they are not the things that will build community. For that, we need to draw upon the biggest strength that we have as an organization -- our members. I would like to ask each of you for your help. Specifically, I challenge each of our members to invite a friend, fellow student, or colleague to come and see what our organization has to offer.  If you have had a professional need met by SSEA, would you please tell somebody about it? Would you please invite them to come and see what we have to offer them?  If they like what they see, please extend the invitation to come and join. Once a member, can I ask each of us to come and serve?  Get involved.  To form a community, we need you! There are opportunities to participate in topic networks, serve on organizing committees, review for the journal or conference proposals, help on committees, and serve in various leadership positions.  A community is created by its members so if you have already come to see, and then came and joined, will you now please come and serve? As we continually increase the ways that the organization can meet various professional needs, it is my hope  that we might increase the number of people who will come and see, come and join, come and serve, and then come and stay. As this happens, I hope that we can provide more people who are interested in emerging adulthood a professional identity, community, and home. 

With appreciation,

Larry Nelson
President of SSEA