Undergraduate Presents Research at International Academic Conference
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Undergraduate Presents Research at International Academic Conference

Earlier this month, Alice Aleksandrovich ’12, an English major, presented a paper at the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention in New Orleans. Throughout the conference, which she attended with English lecturer Diane Russo, she blogged about her experiences, as follows:

Once arriving in New Orleans, I went to see an incredibly inspirational talk by poet Naomi Shihab Nye. Her most poignant statement was one that everyone could find encouragement in: “everybody is extraordinary.” As attendees flooded out of the room, there was a feeling in the air that the next few days would lead to many extraordinary moments.

(L-R) Alice Aleksandrovich ’12 and English lecturer Diane Russo at the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention in New Orleans.

The next day, I attended several paper presentations. The most enlightening one was on a genre I had never heard of called bildungsroman, which is based on expressing personal experiences. I listened with tears in my eyes as presenters talked about personal development, the pain of losing a family member and the difficulties of financial hardship. Everyone in the presentation room felt as if they had just heard pages from someone’s personal diary, which created great intimacy at a convention with more than 1,000 attendees.

On the third day of the conference, I finally got to present my paper, “The Reawakening of Identity through Language in Timberlake Wertenbaker’s ‘After Darwin.’” The paper was written for my honors “Language and Thought” course and was later tweaked with the help of my advisor Dr. Savilonis to make it more relevant to the conference’s theme of “Reawakening.”

As I finished speaking, a flood of calm came over me as I watched my audience process what I had just said. I stepped down from the podium and listened to my fellow presenters, who were all wonderfully bright. A question and answer session was then led by Dr. Russo, about the session’s theme of “power of gender.”

Later that day I ran for the role of student representative for the eastern region. As intimidating as the experience was, it was a great exercise in public speaking and learning to be quick on my feet. Although I did not win, it will be a great experience to bring back to members of our chapter who may consider running next year.

Before departing the conference, I attended an incredible workshop about chapter recruitment and retention that taught me many strategies that will help our chapter grow in size and strength.

The convention experience was everything I expected – and so much more.  I feel like the trip transformed me into a better leader, scholar and person. It was an honor to be the first convention attendee in our chapter’s history. The experience, which was incredibly intellectually stimulating, taught me about managing and leading an organization and equipped me with the experience necessary to continue a career in academia.

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