NASA and PWR Part II






To give you a concrete example, I wrote a blog on behalf of the NASA Administrator (the head of NASA) on the 50th Anniversary of the John Kennedy “Moon Speech” at Rice University. This is an important anniversary for NASA and my piece was going to be published on both the website, and also the whitehouse.gove website. I was very nervous that what I would submit wouldn’t be good enough and that my supervisor (the head speechwriter at NASA and blogger) would just end up writing his own version. In my PWR courses at Elon, I learned not to feel embarrassed by my submissions and not to take revisions personally. I couldn’t help but feel a little embarrassed by my blog submission because it included grandiose language about the purpose of space exploration, coming from a 23-year old intern, speaking on behalf of the head of NASA, who is also a four-time space shuttle commander!

But I had a routine with my draft submissions. I would write much more than the assignment called for, often times unable to make significant cuts myself, allowing my editor to do the cuts for me. So I submitted a piece that was purposefully long. I submitted it to my supervisor, who cut it down in half (which is exactly what I wanted)  and made some minor revisions of his own. He told me to let him know what he thought. This was when I felt most comfortable with the process and felt that collaboration actually occurred. The head speechwriter at NASA and blogger at NASA asked me what I thought about his revisions. I made some comments and adjustments and submitted those back to him. He in turn submitted that draft to the head of the Office of Communications, who looked it over and submitted it to the NASA Administrator himself. The NASA Administrator made some minor revisions and said it was good enough for him. It went through a few other sets of eyes along the process, probably going through about eight people before it was uploaded as the main feature on the site, and then hours later on the home page of the site. And the final result was more or less a slimmed down version of my original draft. But it was a good example of people from different backgrounds working together, with no sense of ego or sense of “my opinion matters more than yours,” to draft a document representative of NASA’s past and future.

While we weren’t all sitting in a computer lab working on the document at once from one computer, there were times when I thought back to those collaboration experiences in the blog revision process, and several other times throughout my NASA experience. I can say for sure that without my PWR education there would have been times when I was confused why the process worked this way or that way, why meetings at 9:30 every morning would take so long sometimes, times when I would have been too embarrassed to say, “Yes, I can write this for you; I’ll have it back to you soon,” and times when certain deadlines would just have been too overwhelming. I came to conquer these fears and assumptions in the PWR program at Elon and take confidence in my abilities as a writer.

Click here to see Thomas’ blog featured on the site!

This entry was posted in Alumni News, Outside the Classroom, Student Perspective. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.