Undergrad Adventures: Showcase of Excellence

Did I really take a screengrab from the video of the event? Yes, yes I did. For you, dear reader.

Did I really take a screengrab from the video of the event? Yes, yes I did. For you, dear reader.

I’ve been a part of the honors college at Cal Poly Pomona since my first year at the university, and on Saturday I was lucky enough to be part of the Showcase of Excellence. I volunteer at the outreach event every year, as the program needs its students to help run it.  This year, however, I was ultra-lucky. The program’s director asked me to be on the event’s speaking panel on how the honors college enhances Cal Poly Pomona careers. It was a opportunity I really couldn’t pass up. For the first time, I got up in front of hundreds of people and talked about myself.

a. It was one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve ever had.
b. It was one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve ever had.

There’s a lot of nostalgia wrapped up for me in the event. 

I remember being 17 years old (omg) and being incredibly overwhelmed by the entire event. College, especially the honors program, sounded terrifying. But that was the first time I stepped foot on campus and the first time I saw myself attending Cal Poly Pomona (as well as the first time I met Dr. Rocklin, but that’s a sidebar.) I knew that if I really wanted to put myself at the top, I needed to seize the opportunity. It’s mind boggling to me that I was in the same exact position as a lot of these high school seniors just four years ago, and so much has changed for me in the meantime. It makes me sad that it was my last one.

I really love talking about the program that changed my life.

In short, everything that has happened to me in the last four years leads back to getting into the honors college. I met some really fantastic friends through the program, and lost a few too. It brought me to Public Affairs. It helped me become a student leader. It led me to understanding what I wanted to do with my life, and it led me to this blog. If telling my story and all the ways in which I’m a better journalist, student and person because of the honors program could help someone along the same path, it would be a honor and a privilege.

Being put on the spot is nerve wracking.

I didn’t have anything bad to say about the program, but I really really really did not want to screw up. I  knew what kind of basic questions that the program director was going to ask us, but I didn’t have any notes or a teleprompter. Granted, the on-the-spot answers are usually the most honest, but I’m a much better writer than speaker when it comes to translating my thoughts. So having to come up with coherent and cohesive answers, for questions coming from the director and the audience, ended up being a really good brain exercise. I had to spin it all on the fly, which made me feel grown-up.

There were a lot of really important people there.

The university’s new president and her husband and a few high-level administrators I know through work and scholarship were in attendance. The president was there for the entire time, and I could see her in the corner of my eye. But after the panel was over, she told me I did a great job, and when I ran into the honors college academic coordinator today, he told me that she was very impressed. I’m not gonna lie, hearing that was pretty damn rad.

It was being taped. 

I’m a behind-the-scenes person most of the time, and being in front of so many people was already very embarrassing, but knowing that there’s a camera out in the crowd recording you live / it’ll end up on YouTube somewhere is also very terrifying. At least now I can say that I can survive it.

It was very hot up there.

Note to self: Never wear a rayon blouse and a blazer under a hot spotlight ever again.

I’m really glad that I was able to participate in the speaking panel, and I’m glad that I was able to help the program. I will never be able to express just how much it means to me, so if I can affect at least one future student’s decision to become a part of our community, it’s the least I can do.

Have you ever felt this way about an experience, or had to get up and talk in front of a big group of people? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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