A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Beth Underwood: Return to the classroom evokes childhood memories for this ‘test-taker’s’ test taker

Every now and then, we all experience something that reminds us of childhood. Maybe it’s the smell of a long forgotten scent or the sound of a favorite song on the radio. For me, it’s the angst that comes with having to take a test.

And it was the latter that filled my being earlier this week when I attended Moonshine University. Yes, that’s right. I went to Moonshine University. Where else does one go for in-depth learning on the art and science of distilling? Nowhere else, that’s where. These people are the cream of the crop. But I digress.

You’d think that after all these years I’d be less nervous about test-taking — that I’d have more confidence in my mental faculties and abilities. You’d think I’d be able to keep things in perspective — to appreciate the art of learning and lighten up about the testing. But I’m a test-taker’s test taker.

If I learned anything at Moonshine U — and I learned a lot — I’m still as conscientious about test grades as I was as a kid. In other words, I have (often unrealistic) expectations of perfection.

Considering it’s been years since I’ve taken a test, I figured my angst was warranted.

Not for the faint of heart, the Executive Bourbon Steward (EBS) program is a full-day immersion, complete with hands-on bourbon distilling and advanced sensory detection. At stake? Lifetime membership in the Stave and Thief Society as an EBS, not to mention the coveted Stave & Thief membership pin.

I’d need to bring my A-game. Which is exactly what I did.

The graduate

While other people relaxed and relished in the wealth of information, I took copious notes like a woman gone mad. Pages of notes, I tell you. Because there’s a lot more that goes into every bottle of whiskey than meets the eye. In case I needed to recall every single detail, I wanted to be ready.

Luckily, as the day wore on, the edge wore off, thanks in no small part to the sensory training. I was more concerned with what I was tasting than what I’d be testing on. At least until they passed out the tests.

I’m happy to report, though, when all was said and done I passed the test with flying colors earning my title of Executive Bourbon Steward and lifetime membership in the Stave & Thief Society.

The whole experience proved all that pre-test worry was for naught. It proved that it’s okay to lighten up and enjoy the learning process. And, thankfully, it proved I’m still a ‘test-taker’s’ test taker.

Beth Underwood is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. She shares stories of everyday life that entertain, inspire, and encourage others. Her books include Gravity, a narrative nonfiction account of a small group of Tennessee National Guardsmen, and Talk Bourbon to Me, a lighthearted look at Kentucky’s native spirit. Drop her a line at beth@bethwrightunderwood.com, or visit her website at bethwrightunderwood.com.

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