Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Attending AERA: Leaning On Others While Leaning In

I wrote about change a few weeks ago, and little did I know I was preparing to usher myself into some new beginnings.

When I write this blog, I'm talking to y'all, but sometimes I'm also talking to God. I'm certain he hears me because he always sends the right folks at the right time. Let me tell you a little bit about how over the last week or so I've been getting all these messages from friends and colleagues, far and wide, that I'm going to be alright. I believe that somebody out there - whether in or outside of academia - needs to read this. Let it serve as a reminder that we have to lean on one another even as we lean in to reach our career and life aspirations.

If you haven't figured it out from earlier posts, I've landed a job. Correction - not just a job . . . an AWESOME one. A foundation for an amazing academic career. A job that caught me off guard. One that was better that what I was desiring for myself. I'm finally at a place where I can talk about it with certainty. It's sinking in.

After negotiating my contract, I headed to the American Education Research Association's big annual conference in San Francisco. This trip was perfectly timed. Though AERA can be a madhouse, I needed to be in that environment. I needed to be around some fresh academic energy. I needed some inspiration. I needed to lean on some folks who are either traveling or will travel the road I'm traversing. Here are a few of my highlights of the conference.

My grainy, distant photo...smh. I got up close and personal, but folks were rushing me! 
  • Meeting some AMAZING women researchers who have invited me to author a piece that's been living in my head forever on Black girls, identity, and mathematics. 
  • Watching my girl, Almost-Dr. T, wow the audience with an amazing presentation. 
  • Meeting the head of the search committee for a job I didn't get and having an AWESOME conversation with him. He's such a great guy. As a matter of fact, he put me in touch with another woman who will be starting at my new university at the same time that I do. 
  • Seeing a book chapter I co-authored in print
  • Going to some sessions that pushed my thinking about my dissertation
  • Sitting down at a bar counter for a solo breakfast and serendipitously having breakfast with a former professor who dropped some knowledge about being a new professor
  • Meeting a young lady who is new to a mathematics education program and giving her an encouraging word - I recognized the frustration. I saw myself.

While AERA was intellectually stimulating, it was also good for my spirit. I saw old friends and made new ones. I dreamed a little bit and worked a little bit. And, hey, it's San Francisco, so of course I had some non-academic fun. My girl E and I found a hole-in-the-wall noodle spot that ROCKED MY WORLD! Check out Katan-Ya if you're ever in San Francisco. I also reminisced about our great San Fran engagement story. I found myself walking down the street with the sappiest smile a couple of times. We even ate at House of Nanking, a spot that my hubby and I fell in love with while we were there in 2011.

More than anything, I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to build community. I'm glad I'm cultivating an ever-expanding group of academic friends who push and encourage me. I'm glad to be in a place where others can lean on me for academic and moral support. I'm appreciative for all of the little messages that I'm going to be ok from other AERA participants. And now I'm happy to be going home. I'm writing this blog as I try not to fidget through the last hour of this long-ass flight back to DC.

Until next time . . . lean on others and be someone folks can lean on as you lean in. We need each other, folks!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like someone is about to BLOW up!!!!