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#2021APPAM Blog: A Day in the Life of a First-Time Attendee, PhD Student


Caroline “Ellie” DeWitt, PhD Student
University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

These past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. I arrived in Austin on Saturday with a fellow PennGSE Ed Policy PhD student, poster in hand, full of excitement (and nervousness) about my first in-person conference ever! I didn’t quite know what to expect but was looking forward to the opportunity to share my own work and to meet some folks whose work I admire.

Sunday morning, large coffee in hand, I hung up my poster and attended a full day of sessions before it was my turn to present. In between attending sessions, I was practicing my poster spiel in my head so I would be ready for the poster session that night. I started to get comfortable talking and sharing my work as the session went on and had great conversations with fellow graduate students, professors (one who was cited on my poster!), and folks in policy. The two hours flew by and before I knew it, it was time to fold up my poster. I changed out of my business casual clothes and went to dinner with some fellow graduate students, some I knew before the conference and others I met that day. I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t exhausted. After dinner, I went to bed as soon as I could because I knew that I had another busy day ahead of me.

I was up early Monday morning to attend the Membership and Awards breakfast before visiting  more sessions throughout the day. The highlight of my day was the Child Well-Being Community meeting that I attended. It was so fun to be able to network with other attendees who have similar interests in research and policy that relates to child well-being. The 45 minutes went by way too fast and I am looking forward to making more connections in this community after the conference ends!

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