Every year at the UCWbL we set goals at the beginning of fall quarter. During my first year at the UCWbL, my goal was to present at any academic conference. I decided to challenge myself and submit my proposal for the National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing. This conference brings peer-tutors and their administrators together to discuss what we are doing, what we ought to do, and more.
I flew to the conference on Friday evening and immediately checked into my hotel and went to bed. The following morning I woke up and had some coffee. However, because the conference was in Tacoma, Washington I realized I had woken up at 5am and had nothing to do until the conference breakfast at 9am.
So, I sat down at the coffee bar in my hotel and had a snack while I worked on my presentation. I was to present my work, “Embodied Rhetoric and Writing Pedagogy” that afternoon at as part of a panel of presenters focused on similar subjects. Once I arrived at the conference I retrieved my name tag and added my pronouns at the bottom. This wasn’t required, but it was something critical to me and my focus at the conference. I was also chairing a session scheduled before my own. While I was nervous when I was initially asked to chair, I’m so glad I agreed to. I helped other peer-tutors of varied academic backgrounds set up and present their work. I kept track of time for them, which ended up being a great way to get a sense of what to expect for my own presentation later in the day.
After chairing was over I took a breather and stepped into the restaurant adjacent to the main room of the conference and sat at the bar to have a coffee and lunch. I ordered my food and looked over my notes and presentation. Our fearless leader Lauri Dietz sat next to me and we talked about the morning sessions we had attended—an added bonus to the conference. Lauri was going to attend my presentation. Knowing a friendly face of someone I truly admire and respect would be in the room allowed me to relax.
The UCWbL is a place where these moments happen quite often. Our colleagues, writers, and leaders often provide the encouragement, motivation, and feedback we need in order to be successful at these events. I won’t deny that I was nervous the entire time I was waiting for my proposal to get accepted and then nervous again before I presented, but I was never at any point alone in that feeling. I couldn’t have done any of it without the support, encouragement, and endless wisdom of people like our Director Dr. Lauri Dietz, Jen Finstrom, Susie M., Liz Coughlin, and so many more. If you want to get involved in conferences and present work you feel truly proud of, look no further than those in our office whether you are an UCWbLer or one of our writers we definitely have tutors willing and able to help you prepare you work for that moment. It could be one of the best memories you ever make. I know it was for me.