Today’s blog post is by Communities In Schools of Houston Alum Tristan Love. Tristan, a senior biology major at Wiley College, recently participated in a panel at the Grad Nation conference in Washington, D.C. Here he speaks about his experience talking in front of an audience of nearly 100 education and nonprofit professionals.
Imposter syndrome is defined as a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments, despite the external evidence that validates them. I have had these feelings – and it’s more than modesty or being humble. I was on the path to a much different future than I am now. With the support of Communities In Schools of Houston, I changed the course of my life, though it’s hard to believe sometimes.
This was my second chance to speak in the nation’s capital. The first time was when I received a Jefferson Award back in 2010. I knew I had to transform my uncomfortable feelings into an optimistic outlook to capitalize on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After giving myself a good pep talk, and hearing the excitement in the voices of my mentor, Communities In Schools of Houston Board Member Pat Rosenberg, and Executive Director Cynthia Briggs, I was prepared to take on Washington.
Prior to speaking at the session “Opportunity Is Just the First Step: Nurturing Social and Emotional Growth,” I felt alone. I think it was due to the fact that I’m not a professional voice in the national conversation on dropout prevention. And here I was, surrounded by people who have made it their lives to keep kids in school. Nevertheless, I didn’t let it bring me down because I knew that I have a personal stake in dropout prevention, and had a personal story to share with the audience.
I really enjoyed the audience that was present in the session. They were all invested in the subject and listening to what I had to say. It solidified the importance of the session and my role in helping it all come together. My responsibility in the session was to give a youth’s point of view and to be a youth advocate on the panel.
I received applause and smiles throughout my speech. The number of people who approached me afterwards was flattering. I was glad I made some awesome business cards to pass out! What really took the cake were all the Communities In Schools staff members who approached me throughout the remainder of the conference. It really touched me because I knew how close Communities In Schools and I have been since high school, and now I was meeting people who shared that vision of seeing young people like me succeed. Additionally, Mrs. Alma Powell personally came up to me afterwards, and told me how good of a job I did. I felt humbled to be in the presence of so many established people like her.
For the rest of the conference, I felt like I was among family. I met so many people who had a genuine passion for seeing young people succeed. I am truly thankful for being allowed to participate in such an event. It has motivated me to continue helping others and encouraging others to do so. I wouldn’t trade those two days at the conference for anything, but I would give anything to relive them again.