The post below is shared by senior political science major Madison Poe ’21 describing the conference she attended with some support through the Honors Travel Fund.
When Dr. Jennifer Lueck asked me to present our research paper over mental health help-line utilization at the International Communication Association Conference in Washington, D.C., I was grateful for the opportunity, but terrified at the prospect of speaking in front of the top field experts from around the world. However, having presented this past Sunday and spending the surrounding days immersed in conference presentations over a variety of communications subjects, the nerves are gone, and I am now filled with a newfound appreciation for academia and a renewed sense of confidence in my ever-growing skill set.
Being given the opportunity to showcase our research project in such a high-profile environment provided me with the chance to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself. Perhaps one of the most terrifying experiences for an undergraduate student is speaking in front of a room of top university professors; yet, having now done so I have more confidence in not only my public speaking abilities by my research capabilities in general. Preparing for my research discussion required me to take a deeper look at both the project I helped prepare and the theories it utilized. Reexamining these research steps has helped me gain a deeper understanding of both my research topic (mental health helplines and strategic communication) and the research process.
Meanwhile, sitting in on various professors’ presentations afforded me with the opportunity to challenge my research knowledge threshold and expand it. Throughout different sessions I was exposed to ideas and research methods previously unknown to me, and in the future these newly learned items can positively enhance my research undertakings. Furthermore, spending a large amount of time with top communication researchers gave me the opportunity to chat with academics from varying personal backgrounds and specialties, and ultimately expanded my professional network. After the conference, I am better prepared for future academic endeavors, have a more in-depth understanding of my own research, and have a newfound interest in a wide variety of distinctive communication topics.
To learn more about the Honors Travel Fund, visit http://tx.ag/HonorsTravelFund.