A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of presenting my thesis research at the 2012 NCSU Graduate Research Symposium. Myself and few of classmates were nominated to represent the College of Design. It was fascinating to be in a room full of bustling energetic intellectuals. The hardest task was minimizing what has essentially been my life into a poster and a minutes-long pitch. I had a great time talking with faculty and other students, beaming with a bit of pride as it began to dawn on me how close I am to finishing.
Within the span of five days, I had presented my work twice: in my oral presentation with my committee and the symposium. The experiences were complete opposites of each other. In my orals, I had thirty minutes and a knowing audience, but the symposium was a few minutes with curious newcomers. After successfully passing orals, I felt a wave of confidence coming into the event. This feeling was fortified after a few conversations. It was a bit of a whirlwind, ranging from an electrical engineer explaining his research on mammogram imagery to a fellow Patton sharing a bit of her family lineage in the hopes that we could possibly be relatives. These put me at ease while the support from my faculty and classmates kept me excited. It was fun to talk through my work for the first time with people outside of my committee. I was able to explain and receive nods of approval from a sociology major, who actually worked on a project with RV Rikard, my resident health literacy expert. I remember thinking,”If she gets this, then I must be doing something right!” On the design front, I talked with Professor Denise Gonzalez-Crisp, who has been completely ignorant of my work up to this point. Even though it was a lot to take in, she smiled knowingly as I spoke and congratulated me on my work so far.
As designers and students, we often work in an insulated fashion; thus, being thrusted into a situation to present my work was the truest test to me. I knew it made sense to me and my committee, but if it didn’t to anyone else, the aim of the work was loss. I knew my work was relevant and cross-disciplinary, but my task as a designer was to communicate this with ease. After a long day, replaying all my conversations and looking at my certificate, I felt like my mission was accomplished.