Yesterday, I won the PhD Award of the Donders Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging (DCCN) for 2018. The prize recognizes someone who has contributed to the DCCN to make it a more vibrant, pleasant, and inspiring place. I was surprised and very, very happy.
Two days ago, on Wednesday, I received an email from Tildie Stijns, the secret organizational force behind the DCCN: “Are you coming to the DCCN centre meeting tomorrow?”
I was confused. Why did she care if I’d be at the centre meeting? I responded that I couldn’t go because I had a writing course at that time.
“But you must go! It’s important.” said Tildie. Well, if Tildie says something, you do it. So I went to the centre meeting on Thursday.
Receiving the award
My friends Lieke and Patricia were convinced that I’d get the DCCN PhD award. I didn’t dare believe it because I’d be disappointed if it turned out that wasn’t the case. They spent the whole lunch break making fun of how cautious I was.
At the centre meeting, I realized I was getting the award when Peter Hagoort said, “The person we’re giving the award to this year has done a number of things, among which organizing a time management course.” There is no other way, I thought, it’s me!
From then on I was just happy. It felt so good to receive the award, and my friends and colleagues congratulated me afterwards, clearly happy for me. Coincidentally, my supervisors, Eelke Spaak and Floris de Lange, were sitting next to me during the meeting and also expressed their congratulations. I was beaming the whole time, my face warm and flushed.
Appreciated and surprised
The truth is that I was genuinely surprised that I received the award. What had I done to be of service to the centre? Peter Hagoort mentioned the Organization Bootcamp (which is starting today! more on that soon), contributing to Donders Wonders and leading it during the summer, and performing a monologue about ethics in science (you can read it here).
But I had done all those things simply because I thought it would be cool to do them. I hadn’t done them thinking, “Hmm, this would be good to do, so I can get the DCCN PhD award.” I guess that’s exactly the point.
I hadn’t expected people to appreciate the things I did. It wasn’t necessary; I did what I did because I enjoyed it. And then it was even sweeter when the recognition came, and I really appreciated it.
Thanks to many people
When I told my mom about the award in the evening, she said, “Wow, this Donders place is such a great place to work. They even pay attention to these things.”
And she’s right. I’d like to thank many people: the DCCN directorate for giving me the award, the award committee for picking me, and the colleagues who nominated me for, well, nominating me. And my friends and family for being by my side and sharing my nervousness as well as my joy. The Donders is such a great place to work (and live 😉 )!
I’m off now, today’s a big day… I barely slept last night because the first session of the bootcamp is taking place in the afternoon, and I still need to practice my talk (never believe me if I say I always stick to my schedule!).
Then in the evening, we have the Donders Karaoke!!! Oh, I can’t wait! I was warming up my vocal cords in the shower this morning, so hopefully the neighbors enjoyed the performance. As the lady living below me once said, “I really enjoy your singing. Are you a soprano?” Oh, the embarrassment in that moment… 😀
And in the weekend, I’ll plan how to enjoy my prize! The award is a fancy dinner in a restaurant of my choice, so I’ll be checking out all the cool restaurants in the area. Woohoo!