After reading Gretchen Rubin’s wonderful book, The Happiness Project a couple of years ago, I started my “never” and “always” lists. And after I went to the Reagan Library over Spring Break last year to dig up some research on Corazon Aquino for a new book project on women world leaders, I promptly added to my “always” list that every spring break I would go somewhere warmer.
Well, this spring break I honored my commitment to head to the warmth, really only marginally when I headed back to the eastern part of the state to present my research to two groups over spring break, the AAUW in Easton and the Commission for Women at Penn State Great Valley. I think my car thermostat said 20 as I drove toward the Lehigh Valley on Friday and as I drive back to State College today the temps will be in the 50s. But the real warmth came not from the temperatures over spring break but from the chance to connect with good friends, hang out with my freshman daughter who was home and gear up for spring, which is right around the corner. And I could hardly resist the invitations to speak, which always lights a fire inside me.
Working with the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence on trying to identify a keynote speaker for next year’s conference with the theme Transformative Teaching and Learning, I am struck by how important it is for researchers to also be effective presenters. When we come across the name of a top-notch academic, my first instinct is to search YouTube to see if he/she has given a presentation that is on the Internet. It is the same commitment to “speaking up and speaking well” that in part inspired the ROAR (Recording of Academic Research) contest co-sponsored by University Libraries and the Office of Undergraduate Education at Penn State. We invited undergraduates at Penn State to speak on camera about their research for 1-2 minutes. The entries are incredible. Our students are truly inspiring. Top entries will win modest cash prizes, but the real reward will be their own improved speaking skills. You’ll likely see some of the wonderful entries online or on campus soon. They will be shown in the morning Shaping the Future Summit at 8 a.m. on April 1 at the Nittany Lion Inn. The keynote address is 8 p.m. at Eisenhower at features Peter H. Diamandis. You can find *his* speaking videos all over the internet! The ROAR recordings will also be shown at the Undergraduate Research Exhibition on April 9 so keep your eyes open.
So, go warmer (even if it is the fire inside you) and speak up and speak well!