Geek of the Year, That’s Me!

Geek of the Year 2017: Marion Leary

In Philadelphia, a city I love an inordinate amount at times, we have an event unlike any other — the Philly Geek Awards! This event, sponsored by three local organizations: Geekadelphia, Generocity, and Technical.ly Philly, is an “awards ceremony honoring outstanding achievements in Philadelphia’s vibrant geek community.” This year was the seventh #PHLGeekAwards, which began in 2011. The event included a black-tie/cos play reception, followed by the main event, an hour long awards ceremony (think Oscars) with 14 different categories ranging from Scientist of the Year to Mission of the Year, Start up of the Year, Game of the Year and more to the pinnacle of all the categories, Geek of the Year (I was told by a past recipient of that honor to think of it as the “Best Picture of the Year” category). Vibrant indeed!

Geek of the Year is described by the Philly Geek Awards as:

“Perhaps the most coveted award in the Philly Geek Awards, Geek of the Year honors an outstanding geeky Philadelphian, who you would find on Geekadelphia, Generocity AND Technical.ly because they’re just that awesome. We’ve made a point to focus on passionate individuals that have made an impact here which the city wouldn’t be the same without.”

I first heard I was nominated for this honor via Twitter (of course) and I am not sure I understood the full impact of what it meant. The honor and prestige was some what lost on me at first — for starters, when I was young being a geek was not a trait of mine that was particularly celebrated by my peers. I was continually bullied and ridiculed throughout my grade school career and it really wasn’t until my early twenties that I began to understand myself in a way that allowed me to embrace and own my individual geekness. To be clear, a geek is defined as someone who is passionate about a topic — though some of us embrace the stereotype of a geek better than others!

As an aside, as noted by our Philadelphia Geek Awards host, 2017 was the second year in a row that the coveted Geek of the Year award nominees were all women and the third time in the last six years. This just goes to highlight the amazing diversity that is the foundation for the Philadelphia Geek Awards, and the important work the geek community in Philadelphia is doing to advocate for the decrease of disparities in the STEM/STEAM fields. This was very evident throughout the night with the attendees, presenters, nominees and finally the awardees themselves who spanned the spectrum of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability etc.

I personally feel so fortunate to live in a city that embraces not only the geek in all of us, but understands the importance and necessity that inclusion of diverse populations means for our community, our city, our country and the world at large! Maybe my love is not so inordinate after all!

At the end of what was a fun-filled night, the final category, Geek of the Year, was presented. It is a surreal feeling when your name is called — being Geek of the Year in a city I love, chosen by people and groups I admire, made it all the better. Philadelphia is an amazing city where we not only have organizations that cater to the geek in all of us but an award ceremony celebrating all of the geeks who make this city #whyilovephilly. I mean come on, what other geek in any other city gets to say that?