Hi my name is Charna Parkey, I am an EE-PhD student in my 3rd year at the University of Central Florida. I just realized that I began blogging to all of GHC without a proper introduction and that just will not do. Here are a few things details about me and why I love attending the Grace Hopper Celebration.
When I began my PhD two years ago I was nervous about bridging the gap between my two bachelors degrees and my dream to be a PhD researcher. A lot of people have helped along the way. Especially the wonderful group of women in EE and CS at UCF. Because of them I was able to attend GHC 2008 and it was a life changing experience. It was the missing ingredient in my life at the time.
In 2008 I embarked on a journey to GHC with a group of women I barely knew to a place I'd never been before on my first trip "alone". Until that point I never realized that every trip I had ever taken had been with family, friends, or loved ones. At that time I wished I hadn't had this sudden realization because for the first time ever I felt homesick. Homesick in the sense that I missed the marginal comfort level I worked so hard to achieve. Marginal because too much comfort does not allow for growth so I am always pushing myself in someway. However, way outside that boundary was what allowed me to grow so much in such a short period. I'll save the full recount for later, but suffice to say I made some wonderful friends on that trip.
The best advice I can give about attending your first year is to become a Hopper. You may not think that it is for you since you know nothing about the conference but the exact opposite is true. That first year I was a session monitor and it allowed me to meet the wonderful speakers one on one and see how friendly everyone truly is. The experience showed me what GHC is really all about.
Last year I found that I was in a very different place in my life when it came time for GHC 2009 and I understood then why there are so many tracks and options for us to choose. This was the year to begin taking advantage of all there is to offer. Coming back as a Hopper this time allowed me a look behind the scenes with the camera crew. Not only did I get to meet manny wonderful attendees and hear their stories but I also met Dr. Telle Whitney and she even took the time to look at my resume. I could not believe that someone so important took the time to make such an impact on me. It was because of her I attended the resume workshop. (Again a story for another post)
To make a long story short, I hope that you see how important it is to immerse yourself in the conference. Through this immersion I guarantee you that when the whirlwind is over you will come out a different person, a better person, someone ready to take that next step in your life no matter where it takes you.
This year I again find myself in a very different place in my life and am now so grateful to be giving back to GHC through blogging, note-taking, tweeting etc. I've planned out my schedule from Tuesday till Friday night and boy is it packed! I will also be a hopper this year, volunteering in the Cyber Center on Tuesday and as a Floater in Thursday so I hope that if you took the time to read this post that you will seek me out at the conference and introduce yourself. Let's take advantage of all of this social networking and our new pokens (!) and get to know each other.
Have a wonderful night :).