I would like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences all those donors who helped make our trip to the Midwest Popular Culture Association Conference possible. Attending the conference was a valuable experience for me for a number of reasons. I had the opportunity of presenting my writing alongside professors who are far more established academically. I was able to see that my own work was worthy enough to be shared alongside research from professors who are already leaders in their respective fields. I was introduced to a professor who has published one book on "The Simpsons" and is editing another book on the popular television series that will be published later this year. She mentioned in conversation that she recently encouraged another writer to meet with her publisher. It is exactly these types of interactions that are so valuable to be exposed to at a conference such as this. As someone who is just beginning to share their research in the field of popular culture, it is inspiring to know that I am presenting my research in the same arena as those who are published authors in their field.
This particular conference was of great value because so many professors were going out of their way to encourage scholars such as myself, who are not as far along in their academic careers. I was able to receive guidance and encouragement from so many other scholars at the conference. I spent a good deal of time speaking with a Ph.D. student who writes in my field of interest, comics. After speaking with one another about our research, he suggested that we exchange contact information, and we even made tentative plans to possibly carpool with one another to an upcoming conference early next year.
Additionally, my Northeastern Illinois University classmate, Katelyn, contacted another Ph.D. student from the University of Chicago, who has now agreed to share her research at an upcoming presentation for the rest of the NEIU community. So not only did we get the experience of networking with other scholars, we already have tangible benefits to share with he rest of the university from these connections we were able to make by attending this conference.
Through this experience, I was able to gain an increased level of confidence that will allow me to feel more comfortable applying to other conferences in the future, which will further strengthen my resume as my academic career continues.