Monday, March 30, 2009

Pride in Our Students

Two weeks ago, my honors student defended her thesis. A full year of working with her on designing the project, analyzing the data, revising draft after draft of the thesis proper, and revising several iterations of the thesis defense, all cumulated in a simple 20-minute presentation. It was without a doubt the highlight of my week, possibly my semester. I was glad to be kicked out of the room while the committee (technically, she's my advisor's student) made their decision, because I wanted to start bragging and applauding her right away. I suppose the politically correct term is pride, but I felt smug. That's right; that's my student. I helped her do that. I didn't do it for her, I just taught her how to do it, and that's even better.

Today I gave a similar feeling of pride to my own advisor. I know this because she came up and told me that she was beaming throughout my entire talk, my annual brown bag presentation to the department. My own pleasure at how well the talk went - I didn't talk too fast, I didn't botch any of the explanations, I only suffered a few misspoken moments - had already been intensified by the fact that the question-and-suggestions period extended into 15 minutes focused entirely on what I could do next, with only the expected minor questions about "does your research really do what you think it does?". I had several people stop me to say how good they thought the talk was. It was exactly the confidence booster I needed before the huge conference later this week.

Obviously, this is more evidence that practice makes perfect. Not that I practiced too much; I gave a sample presentation to my lab a few weeks ago, changed the talk wildly in response to their comments, and practiced twice yesterday. The first practice was abysmal; the second was exactly how I wanted to talk today, and I managed to pull it off. Obviously, all that mental practice reciting the talk (yes, I had every animation memorized) before I fell asleep at night paid off.

Now I just have to managed the same thing for my short and shorter summaries of the two posters I'll be presenting this week.

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