Saturday, July 10, 2010

My GHC Memory

I remember the day perfectly.

It was summertime. I'd left the windows open, white translucent curtains flapping in the breeze. I sat at my wooden desk, on the first floor of a thick stone building, protected from the heat. My good 'ol grey Dell laptop kept me company as always. These were the days before Gmail, so when my little Outlook icon flashed a brief pop-up in my system tray, I clicked it giddily. I loved e-mail.

And that's when THE e-mail came slamming down. It was from GHC. And it said:

What! I jumped out of my seat. I read it over again. Sorry, not enough scholarships to go around, bla bla bla... I skimmed it once. Twice. Scrolled, looking for a waitlist. Nope, nada, zilch. And I sat down, feeling like I'd been hit by a truck.

I thought about the time I spent on the application, mulling over "Why I want to go to GHC'', trying to think of reasons that are better than "because it's real good". I thought I'd expressed myself well enough. I thought I was deserving.

But apparently not. I felt inferior, rejected by the very organization that supports women in CS like me. If even GHC doesn't think I'm deserving, maybe it's because I'm really not! My supervisor had already been really harsh on me lately, already making myself feel like crap. And this on top of it? I started to have major doubts. I'll be honest, I shed a couple tears. Let's not go into detail about this.

Eventually I picked myself back up, and went back to my laptop, like I always do, and started making a plan for how to finance the trip on my own...

... fast forward to October. I'm in San Diego, having succeeded in an elaborate plan:
  • I got a few hundred bucks funding from my department
  • I'd scoured for hours and found a really cheap flight
  • I found a roommate on the GHC blog so I could split the room cost
  • I applied to be a "Hopper" volunteer and blogger so my conference fee would be waived
Little did I know that all of this legwork and involvement would actually make this GHC the BEST EVER. Plus, I blogged, so 5 years later both you and me can still read about it:
So yeah, what started out as being a frightful rejection letter turned out to be the best thing that happened to me. I've been to 5 GHCs all in all, including eventually getting the GHC scholarship, but this one in San Diego topped them all. So thanks, Grace Hopper Conference. You made the right choice.

1 comment:

Steena said...

I liked your post. It's amazing how things like this can turn into wonderful opportunities, if you look hard enough! I wish you were attending GHC'11 though. :(