On average, a typical University of Reading student receives 6.34 billion e-mails a day… so I must admit that I surprised myself when I actually read the one our department sent-out regarding the Henley Challenge in full! Something about the whole idea seemed very interesting to me, and I made a mental note to get back to it after Christmas. A few carols and turkeys later, we were back in Reading for the (so-called) spring term and I had bookmarked over ten articles which I found particularly insightful about “short-termism” over the holidays and I had grown even fonder of participating, specially because I had a non-profit organization in mind that I desperately wanted to give back to!
At that point, it was time for an action plan: first, I contacted my good friend (George, who’s doing Film Studies) and asked if he’d be willing to hear me yap about short-termism for a few hours on camera to make a 3-minute video proposal, and he graciously agreed. The video was ready that same night and I submitted it to the judging panel. A week or so later, I received a response that l had made it to the final round (which is an evening event at which all finalists present their viewpoints)! Now, it was time for the real work to begin, and slide-by-slide, the presentation came to being!
I decided to keep the whole thing secret from my family so that I could surprise them in the off-chance I won (and also to avoid any expectations build-up). Actually, I wasn’t planning on mentioning it to anyone at all, but after a few (extremely supportive and lovely) Henley Business School and ICMA Centre Heads sent an email about my progression to ALL undergrads and staff members… that option was no longer on the table. From then until the evening event, I was delightfully overwhelmed by students and staff commending me for getting to that stage and encouraging me to keep moving forward. This all went a long way in helping to stabilize the anxiety I felt being the only undergraduate in the finals.
Thursday, the 19th of February arrived and I was the first to present. The best part was seeing my amazing friends and teachers in the audience cheering me on. The other excellent finalists had their turn, and finally it was time for people to cast their vote. Less than 30 minutes later, Dr Ginny Gibson took the stage (or the lobby stairs, rather) and announced that everyone had done a great job, and that I had won! I was taken completely by surprise and was trembling (for the rest of the night). I got way more than my 15 minutes of fame with all the Facebook shares, likes, and comments, as well as an interview and local press coverage! Honestly, it has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life (as nerdy as you might think that sounds).
Adding an award to my CV: check; excellent learning experience: check; earning £750 for my NPO: check; keeping £250 for myself: check; perfect excuse for buying new work shoes: check!
But seriously now, the best part was definitely realizing how much (yes, you guessed it) support there is for us students. I’ve always felt that the University of Reading is my second home, but now I know that I also have a second family here at the Henley Business School! Thank you, everyone.
Much long-term love,
Watch the winning presentation: