On Friday, May 13th, the unluckiest day of the
year, I was lucky enough to be able to present at the third annual Honors Student Conference. This year, over 100 students presented research papers,
artistic works, or thesis projects at the conference (you can see the program here!).
While Honors thesis
students are obligated to present at the conference, any Honors student is
eligible to present a poster at the conference. In order to present a poster,
an Honors student can either apply for the conference or be nominated by a
professor. If you apply, you submit your paper or work to the Honors Student
Conference Committee for consideration. If a professor nominates a work you
completed for class, you’re automatically accepted to the conference. I was
honored to be nominated by one of my favorite professors (thank you, Professor
Steeves!) for a paper I wrote for my Honors Senior Seminar.
To be completely honest, I almost turned down the
opportunity to present at the conference. Unlike most people (I imagine), it
wasn’t the idea of public speaking that gave me anxiety. I did theatre for
years; I have no problem speaking in public and I knew my topic well. I got
anxious when I found out that I would have to make a poster. Not only am I not
a very visual person in general, but my paper topic was very conceptual and
theoretical and did not lend itself very easily to visual representation.
Thankfully, the Honors Program offers two short workshops to
prepare everyone for the conference. While everyone had to attend a workshop
about how to present a poster, I opted to also attend the workshop on how to
create a poster. I furiously took notes and started working on it that night. While
I was able to format everything right, I still struggled to figure out how to
visually organize my topic. I stressed out about it for weeks. Unsurprisingly,
I finally had my flash of brilliance the day before the conference and stayed
up until the early hours of the morning working on my poster. In the end, the
stress was worth it and I could not be more proud of my poster.
The actual conference experience was amazing and stress-free.
Everyone was so complementary about my poster
and at least pretended to be super interested in my paper and what I had to
say. I had sort of
forgotten that there are so many students studying subjects other than my own.
Of course I’ve taken classes with students from different majors, but I rarely
get the opportunity to see students represent fields of study that aren’t my
own. So it was exciting to see people that I know and actually be able to see
what they are studying. Likewise, it’s exciting to speak to professors outside
of your department about your field of study. Each professor ends up approaching your topic from a different perspective and their questions make you understand your own topic even better.
Presenting at the Honors Student Conference was really the best experience. If I weren't a senior, I would already be looking to present again next year. If you're ever on the fence about presenting, do it and I promise you won't regret it.