Wow, that’s a long title! As it indicates, I won the award for Best Oral Presentation by an Undergraduate Student last week at the National Weather Association’s (NWA) 40th Annual Meeting in Oklahoma City, for Learning Disorders in the Meteorological Community: Implications for Communication and Education.
I wanted to share some thoughts I have on winning the award.
Going in submitting my abstract, and while at the conference, I didn’t think of my talk as being part of some competition. I saw it as being yet another installment in a long line of presentations occurring at the Annual Meeting, albeit one in which the speaker was going to receive critique and feedback from a panel of judges on the use of graphics, and speaking ability. I would be lying if I said that I’ve never thought about having the best student presentation at an NWA conference, but really, winning the award with this specific talk never crossed my mind as a possibility. I do okay at public speaking, but I struggle in a few key areas, and I felt that this talk was more a chance to get needed feedback to better my speaking skills, than it was something I’d take to a competition. It was on a topic I’m passionate about, and my intent was to spread awareness for that topic while gaining feedback to improve myself professionally. Thus, the only thing I acknowledged to myself about being judged was the feedback I looked forward to receiving.
Many of the other undergraduate speakers were outstanding, and the fact that a panel of judges considered my presentation to be the best was astounding; it was both confidence-boosting and humbling at the same time. I’m sincerely honored to have won the award. It came as a complete surprise, and in some ways, I’m still trying to comprehend it.
I cannot, however, take all credit. My adviser and co-author, Greg Blumberg, played an important role in keeping me on track and focused during the process of crafting the presentation, and was extremely helpful as someone to bounce ideas off of. I can say with certainty that without him, I wouldn’t have won the award. Thanks, Greg, for being an awesome mentor throughout this adventure, and beyond!