Summit 2021: Finding Access in a Virtual World

By Anita Matechuk

Living in a northern community has its benefits. For example, the scenery is breathtaking and heavy traffic means my 5-minute commute across town turns to 10 minutes. However, access is not one of them, as the nearest city is an 8 ½ hour drive away. We have an airport, but the planes are so small that there isn’t assigned seating, and flights are expensive. So you get used to your company not including you in functions, as flights are too expensive and you would spend more time traveling than at the event.

When I heard how organizations and activities were going virtual, I started researching my options. I now had more access to schooling, work, and events; and I was excited to participate. For example, companies offering remote work meant I had access to jobs outside my community, and I couldn’t wait to discover what was available.

Not only could I choose a new career in Tech Comm, but I could take training in it from any school I wanted. It just so happened that the school I wanted offered my desired program virtually even before the pandemic. Still, I would never have expected it before.

Converting my quilting guild to a virtual guild showed me how many people had wanted to be a part of the in-person guild but could not attend. Mobility, travel, and childcare concerns had prevented some members from joining, and our virtual guild now provides them access.

I’m taking advantage of every virtual activity I can, from quilting retreats to STC’s Summit. This year might be my only year to attend a live Summit, and I wasn’t going to miss out. Being a student volunteer made me attend sessions I would never have attempted on my own. Granted, some of them were beyond my skill level, but I learned something from all of them.

I didn’t hear the din of a massive crowd in a conference room. The hush that takes over as a presenter steps up to speak. Still, I did get to hear friends talk about how good it was to see each other and colleagues discuss different aspects of their jobs. The smell of coffee came only from my cup, but I won’t forget how I didn’t feel alone rushing from session to session and smiling at a few technical whoops.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Summit, and I hope that someday I might attend again.