Today I became an academic on the outside.
A couple of months ago, my thesis adviser suggested I submit my 100+ thesis document into a conference paper, a.k.a chop it down to 30 pages. With the switch between jobs and states, I admit, a part of me groaned at the thought of having one more thing to do. Nonetheless, I made a half-hearted attempt to produce a paper in a matter of an afternoon. I sent it off, and promptly forgot I had ever done anything with it.
A few months later I was surprised when I read the following message in my gmail inbox: Please find the attached acceptance notification of your paper submission for the 2011 ACE International Conference.
Those words made my jaw drop like Sebastian in the Little Mermaid. In fact I began to question the integrity of academics--I did not believe my paper was up to par, given my less-than-enthusiastic attempt to submit something worthy of a conference.
Yet, today, as I presented my work, my attitude changed. I realized good research is still good research regardless of its poorly written transitions, or a few typos disguise. The data I collected bridged a more than 20-year-old gap in agricultural communications student data. Such useful knowledge was in high demand, and screaming for the front stage spotlight. I received compliments from many different faculty and students on my ability to recognize the research gap and then rigorously attempt to fill it with something.
Although, I must confess, the most fascinating thoughts of the day have been devoted to all those who have graduated with some type of upper-level college degree, and never attempted to distribute the knowledge they spent anywhere from six months to three years researching. Consider all the graduate studies that have been "sentenced for life" in the a thesis section of a university's library, where their only true use is to collect dust in the land of the forgotten. What a sad waste of talent and hard work.
I loved sharing my research today, hearing the feedback, and networking with fellow academics. I have learned much as I listened to the other presenters talk about their discoveries. I gained a personal testimony similar to John Milton who believed progression towards Truth was dependent on sharing thoughts with another in the open marketplace of ideas. In essence, progression of a public's educational knowledge is only derived from healthy discussion and discourse. Truthfully and whole-heartily, I was happy to be on the market floor today.
So to sum up my day in Dr. Seuss Language: I've been a happy learner in learning learnersville.