Senior Symposium

What a time to be alive.

For the past year, I have worked and worked (and worked) on my Senior Symposium – my final paper for my undergrad in the English program. I have loved every single second of this process. Every second of exhilaration, frustration, and every emotion in between.

Today was the culmination of the process – my presentation. This consisted of condensing my paper (a.k.a. slicing my masterpiece into a million pieces) and presenting it to a room full of my peers, family, and professors. After my presentation, the professors asked me questions, and I had to answer them.

It didn’t seem real until I was sitting in the third chair from the right on the front row. I got that feeling in my stomach that always accompanies nervousness, my right hand clutching my best friend’s, my left hand on the leg of one of my other close friends. We can do this.

I listened to the two people presenting before me, so proud of all of their hard work. Then it was my turn. I listened as my amazing mentor introduced me, saying so many kind things that I’d like to say I’ll never forget, but I can’t even remember because I was so nervous. I looked at the professors sitting on the back row of the auditorium. Each of them smiled encouragingly at me. I thanked my second reader and my mentor, took a deep breath, and began.

I vaguely remember looking down at my phone stopwatch and realizing that eleven minutes had already gone by. My mouth was an arid desert, but I kept going. People laughed at the appropriate places, so that was reassuring. One of my professors laughed five minutes longer than anyone else, so I’m especially glad he found my moments of comic relief funny.

Next came the questions, and I don’t really remember how they were posed, or how I answered them. I just remember feeling confident about them. I closed out of my PowerPoint, moved over so the next presenter could go and sat down.

After all of the presentations were done came a flood of positive reinforcement. My family, friends, and professors were so encouraging, and I felt honored to be able to share my ideas in front of them. A room full of the people I respect more than I could ever express, and they were telling me I was capable and worthy.

I want to remember every second of today, but I know that’s unrealistic. I’m simply so grateful for all of the love I saw today.