(Well, here's how I think it happened...with all the pre-conference excitement and buzz, the beginning of all this is becoming a little fuzzy!)
In 2009, I was fortunate to receive a Career Development grant from AAUW (apps currently being accepted for next year - go for it!) So, a few months ago as I was finishing up my grant year studying Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), I began looking for ways to become more involved in the advancement of women in STEM fields. I came across the Anita Borg site which led me to the Grace Hopper site and the 2010 conference. Looked interesting, but it would be held in Atlanta and I'm in Cali. With a full-time job, very little vacation time, 2 elementary-age boys, a recessed pocketbook, a tendency toward shyness, and a good 13 years since I'd been on an airplane, I thought I'd be skipping this event.
The Pull of Grace Hopper
But I kept going back to the Grace Hopper site...again and again. Nice artwork. Oh, now look...they've added more details on the speakers. Interesting. I looked at the scholarship option but didn't apply for it - after all, I wasn't really going to this thing. But wait, was that an HCI track they added to the schedule? And then the conference organizers really turned up the social heat...Facebooking, tweeting, blogging..made the whole thing look not just educational but fun and plain crazy to miss out on. And that's what finally got me.
Tired of Being an HCI Loner
Due to family commitments, I chose to get my Master's in HCI at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York because they have a great online HCI program. Well, that first year of study changed my life for the better in so many ways...I'll blog about that later. But an obvious downside is that, being a long-distance student, I don't get the in-person interaction with the instructors and other students and I miss all the on-campus events like the graduate teas, speakers, clubs, study groups, the annual fair, etc. And then when my summer break from classes came and I really felt isolated, I realized... hey, I need to get my intellect socialized!
Lemme look at that Grace Hopper gig again...
GCH10 looked like an excellent way to get face-to-face dialogue, advice, mentoring, coaching etc. from other tech students, researchers, professors and career professionals - and especially this year with regards to HCI. The scholarship deadline had passed, but that student rate didn't look too bad. And that free Hopper rate looked even better. I figured if I commit to working the conference, I won't be able to chicken out (plane ride?!) at the last minute. So I applied for a Hopper position and was accepted. To defray the hotel costs, I found a couple of roommates (not bad for a shy person, eh?) and sealed the deal with a plane ticket. I...am...so....THERE!
What's your story? Why did you register for the Grace Hopper conference?