"Go on!" the professor said looking at me. I was stunned, unable to move, and felt like throwing up. Amanda sitting right next to me looked at me and said: "We are in this together, therefore we'll go through it together."

Before I start, let me give you a brief introduction to scholarly me except for the fact that I am glossophobic…or at least I used to be. I am an international student here at UAB enrolled in a Ph.D. program that started this fall. My exceptional GRE score and a near perfect GPA got me so far really easily. But, that would never tell you about my fear of public speaking. So, here is the real me – a reserved and shy student from halfway across the globe who has always been a behind-the-scene genius.

Now, moving on to how I got myself into that particular situation, well that's an interesting story. The first week at UAB the class was divided into groups of five for a team project. Team projects aren't really fun for someone like me – you have to interact with people, coordinate with them to get something meaningful out. Why do people compromise on the efficiency of the best individuals? Crazy idea ‘teamwork is dream work'. Unfortunately, the nightmare didn't end there; our first assignment was to prepare a twenty-minute talk on ‘Phenylketonuria'. Phenylketonuria – I learned that in eighth grade. The worst part was when the professor mentioned: "I can ask anyone from the group to present and that student's performance would decide the grade for the whole team."

My heart was already racing, my brain calculating the odds of me being chosen to present. At the after class group meeting I offered to make the whole PowerPoint hoping that I would chicken out on the day of presentation by being absent. Amanda, the leader that the other group members agreed to, and which I didn't object to, was adamant that everyone would do it. So that lead us to meet more often during the next three weeks. I surprisingly enjoyed meeting with everyone and the baby steps we took to our progress. Unlike usually being voluntold, I was just tasked to prepare the last five slides.

I also helped to explain the concepts to my group that I already knew so well. Everyone thought I knew it all. But, on the contrary, their questions helped me to actually understand the topic in much more detail. In the end, we all aided one another as everyone had some gaps in their understanding, which my friends filled in with their own knowledge.

On the evening before the day of the presentation, we met to do a mock presentation to make sure everyone was prepared. I presented really well to my friends during the mock. I always did well with people I was familiar with. After that last meeting, I confessed to Amanda my stage fright issue. She convinced me to show up for class the next day as we were the ninth group and there was no chance that everyone before us would finish in one lecture.

On the day, the professor decided to start from the last group presenting first and since two students were absent in that group she skipped them and called out "Phenylketonuria". She looked up and asked, "Who all are in that group?" I was the last to raise my hand. "Go on!" the professor said looking at me. Amanda said, "We are in this together, therefore we'll go through it together."

Amanda stood up and explained that since everyone contributed to make the presentation everyone would like to present. To my awe, the professor liked the idea. We all went up to the podium, though all my teammates were still puzzled as to why Amanda would do that. They started with their part of the presentation, and when it was my turn Amanda whispered, “Think as if it is just your friends.” I started nervously, fumbling through my first few sentences. But, the reassuring glances from friends soon helped me get more confident. By the time I finished, I had completely taken charge. It was a euphoric moment when the class applauded our work. Retrospectively I realized the importance of what had happened in the last few weeks. I had a new group of friends, enjoyed my time doing the assignment, and taken my first step towards overcoming stage fright. I now do believe ‘teamwork is dream work'.