Last week I had the privilege to attend the first Rose Fellowship Finalist Summit. I found out just a couple weeks before that I had been selected. I was in a bit of shock, then super excited, then terrified. The intent of the summit was to bring together the finalist and the host organizations in one place before the final interview round. They wanted us to have the opportunity to network with each other since we all have a passion for community based design and could do wonderful things together. The hosts would have a chance to get to know us more before deciding on final interviewees. Like I said, exciting and terrifying all in one.
The summit was an all day event at the beautiful India House in Financial District. I was worried that there was going to be a sense of competition in the room since the 25 of us there are all hoping to land one of five spots this year. However, it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone was excited to be there an meet other people with similar interests in the design field. They made us business cards so that we could share our contact information easily with each other and anyone else that we wanted to be in touch with us.
After the welcome from Enterprise, the host organization representatives had four minutes to explain how they ended up where they are now. Then they sat down for a panel discussion about the fellowships. It was wonderful to hear how the landed in their various positions and how passionate they were about their jobs. After that we all had to give presentations.
The two weeks before I spent stressing out and trying to figure out what I was going to present for my four minute, 12 slide pecha kucha. It had to get across what I was about in some way and why I deserved to be there. This was the first year they had done this summit, so I couldn’t even ask my friends what they did in the past. After talking it through and having some major help from some friends here, I ended up creating a presentation on how I ended up there and how Sturgis, my adopted hometown, had an impact on that path.
I was the fifth person to go. Luckily, I didn’t have to go first or last and got it out of the way quick. I managed to not stumble through it, I didn’t read my notes the entire time, I don’t think I said “um,” and the timing with the slides was pretty good. After two years of not having to speak in public or in front of any audience, it was a bit of a shock to do it again. I’m so glad it went so smooth. Everyone had different approaches to the presentations and it was great to see what everyone is interested in or where they came from to get there.
After the presentations we had 10 minute speed interviews with our perspective host organizations. I applied for two projects so I met with both of them and they couldn’t have been more different. The one in South Dakota asked us to meet them for a drink in the down time before the evening social to talk more and get to know each other a bit better and asked us a couple serious questions in those 10 minutes. The upstate New York one was the exact opposite, much more relaxed, talking about the project a bit and what we had seen. I ended up asking him if he had any questions for me towards the end cause I didn’t want to have messed it up, the answer was, “nope.”
I did go meet the South Dakota crew for a drink and we discussed the project in more detail before heading over to the reception for the outgoing fellows. There I was able to meet up with my friend, Annie, who is a current fellow, meet her “classmates,” as well as the other current and many past fellows. The outgoing fellows talked about their work over the past three years and then had a panel with their host organizations. It was so inspiring to see what they had done for their communities and how excited those places were to have them there.
The night ended at a bar with many of the finalist, fellows and Enterprise team hanging out. Many people would leave the next day, while I stayed through the weekend and hung out with my friends while showing Dr, K around the city.
It was kind of a surreal trip. To make it more surreal, on Monday I found out that I made it to the next round with the upstate New York organization. I will be heading back out to New York in less than three weeks for a real interview on site. My emotions are all over the place for various reasons and I cannot believe I made it this far. I cannot wait to see what happens at my interview or what comes of it.
In any case, I’ve met some really amazing people and I hope we really do use the network that Enterprise set up for us and great things come of it, even if we do not all end up as fellows.