McKearn Program – Taft Retreat – Blog 5

This past weekend we spent at Lorado Taft, a small campground-like area in Oregon, Illinois that NIU uses for various retreats. Our retreat there focused on writing skills, the peer review process, examining and defining the bigger picture associated with our projects, and pitching our project. Since I have been doing research for three years already, most of this information was review. But, it was nice to see how much of the tips and tools we were given this weekend I automatically incorporate into my work. It gave me a boost of confidence in myself and my work, which helped me a lot during our group activities. I am by nature more of an introvert, so doing group exercises is not something that I generally look forward to. After the first workshop though, I felt like I did have information and knowledge that I could share with my peers; and that was a good feeling.

Another workshop that felt very helpful was the “Pitching your project” workshop. Although it put us all on the spot, it gave every one of us the opportunity to try and condense our projects into 90 seconds or less. And, not just that, but make it relevant and understandable to a general audience. I must say, I really enjoyed this exercise. I had fun coming up with suggestions of how other people could start off their pitches, or tie the pitch together with a strong finish. I may not be very funny or creative, but I had fun throwing ideas out for so many different fields.  The exercise of pitching our projects was such a success too! I was honestly blown away by my McKearn Fellows and other peers. You did an amazing job! 🙂

This “Pitching your project” workshop was definitely the one that I took the most away from. I learned not only about other people and their projects, but learned about myself. I also learned more about leadership and my style of leadership, especially when it comes to contributing. I learned this weekend that everyone has something to contribute to a group, and that we should all make sure to step up and share that with the group. I learned that leadership is not always about speaking or acting first, but about opening yourself up and exposing yourself, your talent, and your contribution to the group to maximize the group success. Through talking about our own ideas and the ideas of others, we strengthen them all.

And with that, I’d like to say thank you to my fellow McKearns for a great weekend, as well as to all of the people that helped make it possible!


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