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From Student to TA: Business Presentations

Very few people in this world are lucky enough to have someone who not only helps them develop on an academic level but on a personal level as well.

For me in the Tepper School of Business, one of those people is Dr. Bevins.

I had her for Business Communications and Business Presentations. On the first day of class, she saw a socially awkward and mousy business administration major. She helped me grow into a more confident professional writing major while teaching me to showcase the skills that I gained during my time in Tepper.

I don’t think that there’s anything that I can do to repay Prof. Bevins. But something that I’ve grown to accept more is that life is less about “deserving” than it is about embracing possibilities. Now that I’m a TA for her Business Presentations class, I hope that I can help show my thanks and possibly help students even a fraction of how Prof. Bevins did for me.

Rewind

“I’ve got nothing to lose,” I muttered under my breath. I sent a cold email to Prof. Bevins, who I had for Business Communications and Business Presentations.

This was in October 2020. I was desperate for any work experience to get under my belt before graduating. I wasn’t optimistic about the outcome of this email. But I ultimately decided that the worst that could happen was never getting a response.

A few weeks later, I got a response back. We later found out that one of her sections for Business Presentations fit in my schedule. Whatever happened next is a giddy blur. Surely, I shared the news with my parents immediately afterwards. But I eventually came down to earth and let out a sigh of relief. After back-to-back rejections for months on end, I finally had some experience that I could have under my belt.

The first two weeks

It’s not my first time being a TA for a course that I have already taken. I was my high school psychology teacher’s TA during my senior year, and I remember how weird it felt to see the work that I would have submitted just a couple years back: this time, through the eyes of my teacher. Right now, I’m feeling pretty similarly.

Just yesterday, the students did their first round of presentations. Four students stood in front of their Zoom class and gave five-minute pitches as recruiters for different companies. I immediately had flashbacks to when I gave mine, and I cringed. That intensified when I saw how great the first presenters were, but I’m ultimately ecstatic to see where this group will go by the end of the semester.

This semester is also the first (and, probably, the last) semester in which I use Canvas not just as a student but also as a course content manager. I was a bit taken aback by the hidden widgets and added features, but I quickly got the hang of things.

Moving forward

Saying that I’m excited is an understatement. Not only am I thankful for this opportunity for myself: I’m beyond honored that I get to help cultivate a group of future leaders.

I think back again to my first day in Prof. Bevins’ class. That Madeline would be in utter disbelief if she saw the woman that I have become today, in no small way thanks to the experience that Prof. Bevins put me through along the way. I was the kind of person who felt bad asking the waitress for extra napkins back when we could safely go to restaurants. Fast-forward to now: I have spoken with a staff member for Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Doyle to discuss the importance of education on eating disorders, and I have conducted more interviews for The Tartan than I could have imagined. It was nerve-wracking to be face one of my biggest fears every week, but I wasn’t just thrown into the deep end of the ocean in hopes that I’d learn how to swim. I was in deep waters, sure, but I had someone who was able to meet me where I was at and help me learn how to safely get to shore.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.