BTtoP National Conference | The Whole Student: Intersectionality and Well-Being

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 - 1:00pm to Friday, May 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

THIS CONFERENCE HAS REACHED CAPACITY. Thank you to everyone for the incredible interest and encouragement! For those who are unable to join us in person, we are exploring ways to capture the energy and conversations created by the conference. Send us your suggestions! Email conference planner Jennifer O'Brien:


The deadline for registration cancellation with refund is April 20th. Please email Cindy Koebke at if you need to cancel your registration.

You may substitute registrations up until the conference--please email Cindy Koebke to facilitate. 


Conference Information Quick Links




The final program for the conference is available HERE.
Interested in the conference program mobile app? Check out our program on Guidebook HERE.



The purpose of this conference is to bring together educators of all types (faculty, student affairs professionals, staff mentors and advising professionals, teaching assistants, administrators, etc.) to focus on the importance of well-being in higher education. Through the lens of intersectionality, conference participants will examine and explore how institutional values and campus cultures acknowledge or contextualize the intersections of student identity and lived experiences, support them, and challenge them. This conference takes seriously the commitment to whole student development through the exploration of the very elements that make students whole. Some conferences are about intersectionality. Some conferences are about student well-being. This conference is about the integration of both.



The BTtoP project was founded on the principle that one of the fundamental purposes of higher education is the well-being of all its stakeholders, especially students. Through deep engagement in learning, civic experiences, and diverse discourse, higher education provides the unique opportunity for students to realize their full potential and to flourish.

Below is an explanation of the terms that form the character of this conference and what they mean in the context of this conference, specifically.

“Intersectionality” refers to how a diverse set of identities intersect and affect the lived experience and well-being of each student as a whole person. Intersecting identities can include race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, ability or disability, socioeconomic status, first-generation status, and more.

“Well-being” refers not solely to a feeling or act, but to a relational activity (even practice) of being well—as in being part of a community, having meaningful relationships, and possessing a sense of purpose. Various forms of mental, emotional, social, and physical well-being (e.g., happiness, flourishing, resilience, mindfulness, etc.) are recognized as necessary conditions for well-being.

A longstanding history of attention to the concept of the “whole student” has meant understanding students as the integration of all of their identities, characteristics, and lived experiences—social, emotional, intellectual, physical, and so on. The intersections of these identities and experiences bring new perspectives, ways of knowing, and ways of being. Sometimes educational environments and experiences are prepared to engage all that a student brings, but they may also pose challenges for fostering an inclusive educational environment for whole students.

Considering the “whole student” in higher education means considering how student identities and experiences intersect in the design of curricular and co-curricular programs, structures, and spaces. This includes everything from the design of an academic building, living space or classroom, to the hiring practices of educators who reflect the student body to enhancing experiences of belonging and agency.

In this conference, “student” refers to all types of students—undergraduate, graduate, non-traditional populations, full-time, part-time, commuter, etc. Other terms used to connote “whole student” include the “whole learner” and the “whole person.”

And why now?

Exploring intersectionality as a framework for understanding the whole student and well-being is not just illuminating for all educators, such exploration is practically relevant and essential to offering the type of transformative educational experience highlighted in higher education institutional missions. At a time when complex and often difficult conversations are happening on many campuses, an intersectional framework helps educators work with all students to develop a sense of who they are, their capacity to flourish, and their place in the world, as well as to understand what to expect from their higher educational experience.



Conference Hotel: W City Center Hotel, 172 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL, 60603-3604

The deadline to book a hotel room in our discounted block was April 26th. The hotel sold out of sleeping rooms very early.You can try to call the hotel to see if they are still willing to place you at a discounted rate in the hotel, but we cannot make promises that they will oblige. 

You may be able to find rooms at nearby hotels on sites like

If you are a student interested in room sharing to save on cost, please fill out the poll HERE. (Your participation on the form will be remain private except to the conference organizer; we will contact interested parties with sharing opportunities via email as soon as a share is possible to help students secure the discounted hotel room rate before the April 26 deadline. YOU MUST PUT YOUR NAME AND EMAIL ADDRESS IN THE POLL LINE so we can facilitate a room share. Thank you.)

Travel Information:
O’Hare 17 miles, $55 Round-Trip in Taxi | Midway 12 miles, $45 Round-Trip Taxi
Taking the train (blue line) from O'Hare to the city is an inexpensive and (compared to car traffic into the city) quick option--it should take about an hour.
Taking the train (orange line) from Midway is also inexpensive, but the car trip from Midway may be shorter, if that is a preferred option (about 30-45 minutes.)



The deadline to submit a proposal has now passed. Thank you to all who submitted proposals to present at, provoke, or workshop this conference! We are overwhelmed and gratified by the interest and number of proposals.  We hope to announce decisions by mid-February. A listing of session titles will be posted here once notice has been made to all presenters. 

Visit the Call for Proposals for a discussion of conference topics and suggestions for session topics.



Katie Richárd, University of Central Oklahoma student and Newman Civic Fellow 2016, designed the graphic to the left as part of our student design contest. Her design is titled "Bridging Out to Bridge the Gap."

She earned $250 for her design and travel assistance to the attend the conference. We will use her design in all of our conference marketing and materials. 

Congratulations, Katie--and thank you for allowing us to highlight your talent and passion for student well-being and intersectionality!


Questions? Contact BTtoP Project Manager and Conference Organizer Jennifer O'Brien at





Thank you to our conference sponsor, Stylus Publishing! We will have Stylus titles available for sale at the conference, including Sentipensante by one of our KeyDuet speakers, Laura Rendón!