Of all the KILN activities in which I have participated so far, attending and presenting at the Sigma Theta Tau Biennial Convention in Grapevine, TX have had the most impact on my development as a nursing professional. We traveled as a group of 9 faculty and students—Dean Read, Dr. Vessey, Dr. Harris, Tricia Gordon, Djerica Lamousnery, Sabianca Delva, Paulina Mikloz, Debra Pino, and myself. Upon arriving on Saturday, we presented the symposium “Fostering the Development of Future Leaders in Global Health through the ‘Keys to Inclusive Leadership in Nursing’ Program”. My segment consisted on describing my Advanced Study Grant project in Panama and explaining how KILN motivated me to pursue this grant. On Sunday, we attended conference events followed by a cookout at the house of a member of CSON’s Diversity Advisory Board. On Monday we toured Texas Christian University and were able to experience another nursing school and the resources it has to offer.
The ability to present with prestigious faculty from a well-known university was first and foremost an honor. I was flattered to be offered the chance to participate in the presentation and to attend the international convention. Furthermore, the experience of presenting a symposium was fantastic for the development of my future career—I aspire to sit on panels for the World Health Organization (WHO) or another international health organization as an expert in international health policy. But from a more short-term perspective, the opportunity allowed me to practice my public-speaking skills, improve my confidence in front of a crowd, and network with the attendees. There were many nurses from all levels of the profession who asked pertinent and challenging questions after our presentation and it was exciting to offer answers.
The process of preparing a presentation was a learning experience as well. I was forced to time manage as I needed to fit speech preparation into my already busy schedule. Additionally I needed to make time to meet with the group to review PowerPoint slides and practice behind a podium. I also had to learn the best ways to organize information onto concise and aesthetically pleasing PowerPoint slides, which was something I did not have a lot of experience starting out. I was very grateful to have the guidance of Dr. Vessey, who is very talented with putting together wonderful PowerPoint presentations. Dean Read and Dr. Vessey, two seasoned conference presenters, gave me useful feedback, which allow me to learn and develop the skills I needed to be the best presenter I could be. Furthermore, I also practiced taking criticism in stride for the sake of becoming a more effective and eloquent presenter
Finally, this experience gave me a chance to contemplate my experience in Panama once again. I revisited what I had learned the summer of 2010 and rekindled my passion for international health care. This was so important on a personal level because prior to the conference I had begun feeling the weight of a difficult semester. It was invigorating and motivating to remember one of the main reasons I went into nursing and share that excitement with other like-minded individuals. It was amazing to see the fire of passion in their eyes, and important to remember that even during the monotony of a tough semester, I have that passion as well.