Last weekend, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, between 2,000 and 2,500 college students congregated on the campus of Louisiana State University for the National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH) Annual Conference. 

The NACURH Annual Conference focuses on student leadership within residence halls and offers as a place for students to develop as leaders to better serve their university. 

As the National Communications Coordinator for The University of New Mexico Residence Hall Association, I was able to experience the conference first-hand along with a delegation of nine other passionate student leaders and one incredible advisor. The conference presented us with many opportunities to find out who we are as leaders and how we could bring leadership skills back to Albuquerque to serve the residence community on UNM’s campus. 

A major focus of the conference were educational sessions, which allowed for presenters from across the country to run programs discussing topics from mental health, to diversity, to sustainability, and even team building. For me, these sessions were one of the most impactful portions of the conference and presented the most information and experience to bring back to UNM. 

Alongside educational sessions, attendees were invited to attend Mass Gatherings while in Baton Rouge. These events occurred each night, and included the entirety of the 2,000 plus students and advisors congregate. These were held in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center (PMAC) and hosted keynote speakers, spirit competitions, and the presentation of awards. Mass Gatherings were a celebration of everything NACURH represents. 

The first night of the conference, a panel of Louisiana residents who have made an impact on their community served as the keynote speakers. These individuals included the first female Mayor-President of the City of Baton Rouge and East Baton Rouge Parish, leaders of non-profit organizations, and a chef who finished runner-up on Food Network Star. 

Each of the keynote speakers touched on their own leadership journeys and how they came to be where they are now. This was very fitting as the theme of the conference was “The Great Expedition.” Hearing how these four individuals overcame obstacles in their path to success and leadership was thought-provoking and gave me pause to think about my own leadership journey. 

The second night of Mass Gatherings was really where spirit came in to play. Each region of NACURH performed a sort of dance accompanied by a video for the rest of the room. Dubbed “Roll Call,” this event saw each region have a great time representing who they are and how much they care about NACURH. Seeing thousands of students putting themselves out there to show their spirit and their passion for NACURH was amazing to see. 

On the third night, awards were presented to deserving individuals within NACURH. From “Program of the Year” to “Most Spirited,” the awards celebrated the hard work put into improving residence life on each college campus. Every time someone received an award, the entire PMAC went into a roar of applause and cheering. The support in the room was immense, and it is one of the reasons I look forward to serving this organization in the upcoming school year. 

NACURH is an organization dedicated to the development of student leaders and the betterment of residence life on college campuses across the United States and Canada. Though not many students know about NACURH, and what it stands for, those who do are passionate about the organization. This passion is what NACURH is all about and it aims to improve residence life on all college campuses, one delegate at a time. 

Chris Mather is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at or on Twitter @Chris_Mather31.