The First surreal moment of many more to come:

Here I am, standing in front of a room of stakeholders in a historic ASU building on Tempe campus. The attire is formal wear and the crowd is fairly small, around 60 people, but the energy is high. I am standing with a few of my USAID Global Development Research Scholar peers waiting to address the room. Our poster presentations are hung on easels around the room with pride. Just a few minutes ago I made a great connection with a director of ASU who knows a contact in Hanoi for government relations.

So many things go through my head. Things like don’t puke, don’t pass out, ugg let’s get this over with, and I hope I don’t say “um” too many times. There there are other things that also cross my mind like I have worked so hard to get here, I can’t believe I am going to do research IN A DIFFERENT COUNTRY, I can’t believe that I am actually starting my Dissertation, I am such a BADASS. It is insane how I can go from self-deprecating fear to feeling like a freaking genius in minutes! Just yesterday I had to call my boss to come help me because I locked myself in the work stairwelI on accident, and now here I am presenting on behalf of the entire Doctor of Behavioral Health program. I am filled with a mix of excitement and fear (or maybe it’s just nausea from my strict diet of too much coffee and not enough actual food).

Then, it’s my cue. I step up to the podium and I present. I Knock it out of the park. I talk from excitement and from the heart about improving population health. People in the crowd nod and connect with what I am saying. I don’t have to use my notes, instead I use my hands to make a point. I look around and I feel so surreal. I know that things will be hard and probably get harder, but up until this point, this has been the hardest struggle of my life. I have sacrificed so many hours to my passion of reducing heart disease and my pursuit of education. I have worked my tail off to get here, in this very moment.

Tonight I am going to reward myself with something rare that PhD students hardly ever get, SLEEP!

Follow the link below to watch a prerecorded version of the presentation. It is not as organic and energy charged as my live presentation, but it is informative!