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Take a Chance In Presenting

Published on
4 Jul 2016

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Congratulations! You got into OII, and you’re gonna make memories, for sure. One of those memories might involve your (mandatory) presentation during your two weeks in the OII SDP. Now that you’re here, what kind of presentation are you going to share?

Depending on the order you were given, you might have the benefit of watching others present before you. You’ll note that some folk will give rehearsed presentations on material familiar to them. They will exhibit little anxiety as they share their research in ways that they have done before in front of other academic audiences. And you are welcome to give that type of presentation because the OII does not set requirements for the talks you give while here.

However, I would encourage you to choose to take a chance when you present. During my OII SDP experience in 2015, I was impressed by my peers. They were smart and passionate. And they gave excellent feedback, paying close attention to our presentations. To receive thoughtful suggestions from such an intelligent, knowledgeable audience was an opportunity I wanted to seize, but I was scared to share new research that had not been tested yet. Still, using my OII presentation as my deadline, I finally made myself write up ideas that had been percolating for years.

So, on July 9, 2015, I did something I’ve never done before and haven’t done since: I presented actual work-in-progress. Up until then, my experience with academia was that our peer audiences reward only pretty-much completed research shared in an understandable way. But what about the initial stages of development of our work? Where do we share the beginnings of research with little data collection? I discovered that an answer was the OII SDP. What I presented was rough, unpolished, and real. I felt vulnerable and nervous. But I also felt determined and hopeful.

It wasn’t until I presented this material for the first time that I realized how much my project meant to me, which was evident in my being moved to tears. I was surprised (and embarrassed) at how emotional I got during my presentation, but I am grateful that I was surrounded by the caring and kind colleagues that made up the OII cohort of 2015 (y’all know who you are). And I appreciate Vicki’s immediate hug, compassion that I will remember always. When was the last time you gave a scholarly presentation and received a hug in response? The OII SDP is full of positively delightful surprises.

Whichever method or issue you choose to present during your OII experience, I wish you good luck. If you see a colleague struggling during the presentation, extend some empathy. If you are that person, know that you are not alone. If there’s anything I may do personally to support you in your journey, please contact me on Twitter @JennyKorn and at or on Facebook at I welcome your questions and highly recommend you say “yes” to risk-taking. And to punting.

Welcome to our growing community of OII SDP peers, alumni, and faculty!

JennyKornJenny Korn is a scholar-activist of race, gender, identity, and media with academic training in communication, sociology, theatre, public policy, and gender studies from Princeton, Harvard, Northwestern, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she is a doctoral student.