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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Third Time's a Charm: My Growth at the 2013 ISPA Conference

Each year as the annual ISPA Conference & Expo approaches, I do whatever it takes to finish my school work days in advance and clear my calendar of my most pressing responsibilities. The added stress is worthwhile: the ISPA Conference never fails to reinforce why I want to pursue a career in the spa, health and wellness industry upon graduation.

During past Conferences, you could always find me vigorously taking notes during every General and Professional Development Session. But this year, not only did I listen closely to how to build a highly engaged spa team or how to execute the art and science of designing a spa menu, I also followed up with the speakers afterwards.

In particular, I was blown away by Mary Wisnom’s innovation video on the student-managed and operated spa lab at Florida Gulf Coast University. It is my hope that one day Cornell’s Hotel School can implement a similar operation to promote how essential spa is to the hospitality industry and to introduce students to the spa industry’s limitless possibilities.

I remember my first ISPA Conference, when I timidly perused the Expo floor as old friends and colleagues warmly greeted each other, sharing stories of their business endeavors and personal accomplishments. I was just a student, not yet confident in my networking abilities, and was unable to spot a single familiar face.

The 2013 ISPA Conference was different. I truly felt like I hit my stride. I know a good handful of ISPA members now that I have completed two fantastic internships with Red Door Spa and WTS International. I was finally that person exchanging hugs and stories with former co-workers between the educational sessions.  And as this year’s Mary Tabacchi Scholarship recipient, I enjoyed a taste of being an ISPA celebrity, both recognized and congratulated by friendly strangers throughout the Conference.

Attending the annual ISPA Conference always reminds me why this industry attracted me in the first place: its mission and those who carry it out. Through both my spa work experiences and ISPA’s educational sessions, I feel I am growing into the young spa professional I strive to be.  Even though the 2013 Conference was the final one I attended as a student, don’t worry: it will not be my last!

Kendra Kobler
2013 Mary Tabacchi Scholar
Student at Cornell University

Are you interested in applying for the Mary Tabacchi Scholarship? Visit the ISPA Foundation website for details. Information regarding the 2014 Mary Tabacchi Scholarship will be available early next year. 

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