I was in Texas this week (Frisco, just outside of Dallas, to be exact) giving my first-ever keynote address. To be honest, I was scared to death. Here was a group of almost 250 conference attendees who have been told that I had something of value to share with them. As I prepared, I thought of the times when I’ve giggled (on the inside) when students tell me how nervous they are to speak in front of their classes. I teach every week; I regularly present to our students, their parents, and occasionally to the community at large. I am never shy about expressing my opinion or saying what I think needs to be said, be the group large or small. But here I was, scared to death about presenting in front of a group, most of whom I will never see again. I think much of this fear came from the idea of it being a “keynote.” Earlier this year, I was at a conference where one of the speakers remarked that he was “just” a plenary speaker, not the keynote because the keynote was too important of a speech for him to give. Somehow, that stuck with me. But to be honest, once I got into it, I kind of loved it. If you ask Myers-Briggs, Im an introvert. But in this situation, I loved the idea of being able to share ideas about transfer students for which I don’t often have as much of an audience. More than that, I really loved being able to have the conversations afterward that allowed me to meet new people and engage further on what I see as one of the most crucial issues of our time.
And so, I suppose that the lesson learned for me is to practice what I preach. I often tell students that they need to take risks; they need to try new things that make them nervous or even terrified. They need to gain new marketable and transferable skills. They need to spread their wings. And so, Im incredibly thankful to the advising network at University of North Texas for their invitation and for the opportunity to try something different, to meet new people, and to gain skills and confidence that, without this experience, I might never have. And, hopefully, to continue the conversation about transfer on beyond the borders of this conference.