Kirsta O'Connor and others

I got a Golden Ticket. How #eLive18 changed my #ellucianlife

Key takeaways

  • Krista shares highlights from her #eLive18 experience and the inspiration that motivates her at Ellucian today.
  • The connections she made and speakers she heard infuse the work that she does within the legal department.

I felt like Charlie Bucket. It was as if I had won a golden ticket into Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory—but instead of a chocolate factory, it was #eLive18, a magical annual user conference called Ellucian Live. It was held in sunny San Diego with 8,000+ participants (customers, partners, and employees) from all over the globe.

I know what you’re thinking: “Why is she so excited about a conference?"

I work in a legal department operations role at Ellucian. While the role is integral in providing a great experience for Ellucian customers, Ellucian Live is not an event I would typically attend. However, last year, I was one of several lucky contest winners who got to be a part of it all! So here it is: this is how my experience at #elive18 changed my #ellucianlife forever:

#eLive18 electrified me.

One of my absolute favorite experiences at #eLive18 was the interactive live art wall, which illustrated the progress of technology in higher education. All week, attendees were asked, “What are your passions?” Artists then incorporated attendees’ responses by painting images onto the mostly black and white wall, including pictures of airplanes (travel), hands (diversity), a graduation hat (student success) and an apple (wellness). The result was an illustrative collaboration of responses. I had to stop and grab a picture of myself pretending to be an artist.

Krista art

Another must-see stop? The Innovation Lab run by our super smart and creative Applied Research team. After checking out their demonstrations and displays, I am truly excited about the future of technology in higher education. While I was too afraid to try the virtual reality experience, my colleague Jen Welding (along with thousands of others) had a blast playing around with it. The Innovation Lab also showcased software that is able to read the expression on your face. For instance, if students become confused during a classroom lecture, the software could recognize their bemused looks and inform the instructor. That instructor could then take action, such as switching gears or slowing down before it becomes too late for the students. Also in the Innovation Lab? A robot that took spins around the floor, and my dear friend, Amazon’s Alexa. Alexa was being tested to help students with registration or to simply let them know the hours of the health center. Now, this is technology I could have used as an undergrad!

#eLive 18 inspired me.

It’s no secret that Ellucian Live is known for its awesome keynote speakers. I think I nearly passed out when I first heard that Jill Biden and Malala Yousafzai were going to speak at #eLive18. When Jill Biden shared some of her experiences as a professor at a community college, she said, “You don’t have to be a teacher to be passionate about helping students.” This has really stuck with me. I was also incredibly inspired by Malala’s persistence and humility, and the way she took tragedy and turned it into good, all at such a young age. Their stories remind us why working in the higher education industry is an important mission, and that we all play a role in student success.

Krista and others at ELive

Smaller stages showcased other speakers who were just as stimulating. They were Ellucian employees holding sessions for customers on maximizing Ellucian’s solutions, implementing recommended practices in the areas of privacy, and on the Ellucian Ethos platform. There were also Ellucian customers holding sessions for other customers in which they shared their knowledge of Ellucian solutions or their experiences with moving to the Ellucian Cloud. Inspiring others, sharing information, and learning is what Ellucian Live is all about. It was exhilarating to be a part of it.

#eLive18 connected me.

During lunches, sessions, receptions, and one really awesome party, I was able to connect with some of our customers. Hearing directly from them on their challenges helped me connect the dots on how my job can have a direct impact on them. It was refreshing to hear their excitement about their experiences at #eLive18. I was also able to connect live with my peers and friends at Ellucian. Lots of hugs were given to people whom I normally only see on a video conference. I was even able to help close a transaction for a customer on the spot as a result of a chance meeting with one of our Solutions Consultants on the conference floor.

Krista and colleagues

Jill Biden said, “We must dare to be powerful, but we cannot do it alone.” In a few weeks, thousands of Ellucian’s customers, partners, and employees will descend on New Orleans to celebrate “The Power of Together.” I know #eLive19 will change someone’s #ellucianlife forever, and I cannot wait to hear about it.

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About the Author
Krista O'Connor
Krista O’Connor
Senior Legal Operations Manager

Krista O’Connor is a Senior Manager of Legal Operations at Ellucian, a global information technology and solutions company specializing in higher education.