Kansas State University


Student Stories

Presenting to Professionals? Did I really do that?

Why yes, yes I did, thanks to K-State! Read on to hear about my experience presenting at a national conference with members of the K-State English Department!

From left: Professor Steffi Dippold, Sarah Peterson, yours truly, Cheyenne White, and Hunter Nelson. These are the awesome people that I was lucky enough to present with in Tulsa.


It’s funny how awesome opportunities arise when you do things that you love. K-State is really good about making that happen.

Last semester, I enrolled in an English course called Power of the Page: Books That Define Us. It was, among other things, a history of the book course that also required a joint research project with books from Hale Library’s Special Collections (basically a bunch of really cool, really old books). To non-book-people, that may sound like the most boring, soul-crushing class ever. As an avid reader and book nerd, I was thrilled.

Throughout the semester, we learned about the evolution of books from being scrolls and manuscripts to the bound, beautifully paged creations we know and love today. We studied different book collectors, learned about famous literary concepts, and discussed major contributions to the book-world. I loved every second.

As we were learning about all of this (amazing) book stuff, each student in the class was also researching a special book from K-State’s Hale Library’s Special Collections. I chose a book called The Kansas Speller by M.E. Pearson, which was published in 1918. I studied my book’s texture, the number of lines per page, the smell of it, and the neat hand-written notes from previous owners. After looking at the physical book, I delved into the social and historical contexts of it.

Again, for a nerdy bookworm, this was SO. DANG. COOL.

At the end of the semester, one of my classmates made a website where we published our projects. Then our wonderful professor, Steffi Dippold, told the class about an opportunity to present our research at a national conference! Four students were able to go, and thanks to the College of Arts & Sciences, I was able to get a travel grant to fund the travel.

So it was on March 3, 2017, that I set off on an adventure to Tulsa, Oklahoma to present at the 10th Biennial Society of Early Americanists Conference. I was able to see established professionals in a field that interests me, and some of them even came to watch the panel I was on about doing undergraduate research. As my classmates and I presented our research to professors and members of the SEA, I felt proud, professional, and very, VERY purple.

It was a thrilling adventure, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to attend this event. It seems crazy, but it all began with enrolling in a class about something I loved—books—and led to a professional presentation! K-State has a ton of opportunities for research, exploration, and presentation, and I am so glad to have taken part in one of them!

If any of you are book-lovers like me, here’s the link to my class’s online exhibit. You can see awesome old books with some cool information about them, as well as a description of the class we took. Check it out!

Also, if you happen to be interested in the Society of Early Americanists, you can check out their website here!

If you want cool research opportunities and traveling experiences, K-State is a great place! If you’re interested in these kinds of things, here is the link for K-State’s Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Inquiry. You never know what opportunities are available until you look, so be sure to take a peek at this site to see some of the opportunities that K-State has for you!

About Malorie

My name is Malorie Wagner, and I am a junior majoring in English. I believe that everyone here has a story, and I hope to share some of the stories of those that make our university so great with you through my blog. Go ‘Cats!

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