by Peg Richmond
Ph.D. student in Adult, Professional, and Community Education
One of the highlights of my first semester as a doctoral student at Texas State University was participating in the 2018 International Research Conference for Graduate Students (IRC). A long-time marketer and business development professional, I was already pretty comfortable talking to the public and explaining other people’s advanced technologies, products and services. But when it came to my own research work, I was much more guarded, holding myself to (probably) impossibly high standards and reluctant to share if I didn’t feel the work was perfect. Now, I really wondered whether my professional work would stack up in an academic arena.
As I pondered, I sought guidance from the acting director of the Adult, Professional and Community Education (APCE) program in which I am enrolled. She encouraged me to take a chance, citing the supportive, constructive and nurturing aim of the conference. So, I submitted my paper—grounded theory research with food manufacturing executives about the gaps in education and resources within the Austin ecosystem—for consideration as a poster presentation.
Happily, my paper was accepted, and I got to work figuring out how to prepare an effective poster. The editing, formatting and printing process afforded me an excellent chance to review my work and to think about future research considerations. More importantly, in preparing, I had the opportunity to speak in-depth to two of my professors about the work, gaining valuable feedback about next steps. The actual poster event afforded me a wider audience of fellow grad students, visiting educators, and a number of faculty and staff involved in innovation at Texas State. I was gratified to know I was not alone in my interest in this topic.
Even more gratifying, I received an email prior to the conference, letting me know my paper would be recognized for innovation. Try keeping that secret for three weeks when you’re bursting with excitement! Now that the word is out, my cohort members, colleagues, faculty and staff have been sincere and forthcoming in their congratulations.
Overall, my IRC experience echoed my experience to-date as a Texas State graduate student. From application to acceptance, from onboarding through academic progress, I have felt the inclusion and momentum of the graduate community at every step. My success, and every other graduate student’s success, truly matters here. I enrolled here and participated in the IRC because I wanted to make my research better and myself a better adult educator. In a single semester, that’s already happening. I can’t wait to see what kind of researcher and educator I’ll become during the next four years.