October 24, 2011 - 5:30 AM
Week five is upon us, the half way point of the term and the most logical place for a second wind. And yet as I write this post early on Monday morning, I am beginning to wonder how many second winds I have left. It would be interesting to see a graph of my productivity over the course of a term to identify the low points, the high points and try to make sense of what causes them. Productivity is an interesting thing. The other day my good friend and I were talking about the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and how Franklin, being a very astute observer, noticed the differences in mood in his co-workers and how that seemed to correlate with the amount and type of work they were doing. If they had steady but do-able work that occupied them, they would have better attitudes. This was probably resulted from them having a sense of accomplishment. Whereas on days when the workers only had intermittent work to occupy them, they were idle and had worse attitudes.
This raised a couple of interesting points for me. One is that people enjoy accomplishing things. There is great satisfaction from finishing something you've set out to do, especially when the task is challenging and takes a lot of time to complete. The harder the task, the larger the reward. A no-brainer really. Furthermore, this sense of accomplishment builds momentum. Once you get the ball rolling and keep crossing things off of your to-do lists, it only gets easier. I must admit that moving through my to-do lists is one of the most satisfying feelings I get during the course of a day. A better work ethic leads to a better attitude and vice versa.
The issue often is getting the ball of productivity rolling. It is much easier to continue doing something you've already started then it is to get started in the first place. At least this is how it is in my case. Distractions are annoying but at the time they may seem more pressing than the task at hand. That is why I believe it is important to have a vision. Ambition, goals, drive, purpose, anyway you look at it there must be a reason for why you are doing what you are doing. And if you don't know, ask yourself. Today is merely the result of yesterday and tomorrow will be the result of today. While I cannot say that every one of my actions is methodical and will most certainly move me towards my goals, I can say that I try. In fact, the goal is something that may never be achieved as you imagined it, but there is a lot to say about the journey taken in pursuing that goal.
October 23, 2011 - 11:30 AM
With midterms in the air, I don my studious swagger. Scruffy facial hair, sweatpants, hoodies, tired eyes, green tea or coffee (5-hour energy for the more extreme student), and a backpack full of books and papers. Late nights and early mornings in the library are now all part of the daily grind. We are college students and while we may not always look the most professional, or act the most professional for that matter, we do work hard. I have some amazing friends accomplishing some amazing things this year and it is inspiring to see all of our lives fall into place. For this brief period in our lives, we see no limits to our potential and are encouraged to pursue our loftiest dreams. But in reality, where will all be a year from now? Five? Ten? Twenty? I honestly can't wait to find out. Some way or another we will all find our way. If anything, we must leave college with ability to adapt to new and unexpected situations. I have had many days and nights of anxiety about what I'm going to do with my life and I seem to only find peace in knowing that change is the only constant.
But for the time being, I live in the moment because that is all I have. When the stresses of midterms are weighing heavy on your shoulders and your eyes are closing like curtains, you can find peace almost anywhere. There is peace in listening, in laughing, in reading, in walking, in sitting, and even in doing homework. The key is looking for it. I challenge everyone I know to not get worked up over the little things, the mundane, and the trivial. Trying looking at stress from a larger perspective, stress is a motivator and sometimes a very necessary one, but to overuse it is bad for you physically and mentally. So in the words of Bobby McFerrin, "don't worry, be happy" and get your work done.
October 10, 2011 - 11:31 PM
Last week I had my first training session for the UO's IMPACT mentor program. "IMPACT is a peer-to-peer mentoring program that helps make the transition for first year students of color in the UO community and student life a comfortable, accepting, and a culturally responsive experience." The program emphasizes the power of being connected to a community and so, helps new students make the connections that are critical to their success and happiness here at UO. For this entire year each of us will be assigned a single mentee and we will spend time with them at least every other week over the course of the year.
As peer mentors, we are more than new friends. Although, there is nothing wrong with that kind of relationship we just hope to foster one that goes beyond friendship and develops into a one where mentors also act as advisors, supporters, tutors, sponsors, and role models. We help them identify goals and plot out the steps necessary to achieve them. We are coaches that inspire confidence and encourage our mentees to reach for something greater. We are to empower them, and yet they have the ability to empower us as well.
The reciprocity of a relationship such as this is one of the main reasons I applied to be a mentor. I see it as a great opportunity to meet new people from diverse walks of life and share experiences. Just from the single training session we had last week, I can already tell that this will be a very rewarding endeavor. The other mentors are upbeat, motivated and outgoing people from all over campus. In the room of mentors, I felt comfortable and confident that I was in the right place.
Another reason that I chose to apply to this program was my own personal "pay-it-forward' initiative. Over the years I have received so much support and learned so much from my family, friends, family-friends, counselors, advisors, and teachers that I truly believe in the power of community. There is an African proverb that says "it takes a village to raise a child" and in my life, this couldn't be more true. All of my accomplishments are owed, in part, to those who have supported me and now as a senior at the UO with a handful of valuable experiences, I feel that it is my turn to start paying that forward.
October 10, 2011 - 10:30 PM
This last Friday was the year's first Undergraduate council meeting. Last year I was nominated to serve as one of the three student representatives on the council and after a successful interview, I was informed that I was selected for the position. I am very excited to play a part in shaping the culture of our university's undergraduate experience. The collaboration room at Knight Library was filled with many of our university's brightest and most esteemed faculty from head of the school of journalism, Tom Wheeler to Dave Hubin from the president's office. All twenty-one members, including five ex-officio members, have made a commitment to ensuring that the undergraduate experience here at the UO is one of appropriate rigor and quality.
Throughout the course of the year we will discuss current topics regarding undergraduate studies here at the UO and make sure we are upholding the standards we have set for this university and its students. Working closely with the Vice Provost for undergraduate studies, our council will help to maintain and improve the criteria we have developed for the general education requirements. And it is these issues that I am most interested in at the moment. In fact, one of the primary reasons I chose to accept this nomination was to learn more about and hopefully improve our general education requirements. However, the issue may be more with the student's perception of these requirements. As I have mentioned before, I am a strong advocate for a broad-based liberal arts education, as are many of the other council members. Furthermore, one goal I have for this position is to offer my perspective as an undergraduate student with connections to the many different opinions offered by the student body.
I am greatly honored to be serving on this council. Undoubtedly, I will learn about the many inner workings of this university such as, the major/minor proposal processes, grading culture, and academic policy in general. This is yet another opportunity to learn and meet interesting people with a vision for the UO. I am huge on taking advantage of new opportunities and opening new doors, and this seems to be a great door to have open.
October 2, 2011 - 3:05 PM
This week I had a meeting with my good friend and mentor, David. David works for UO development as the Senior Director for Gift Planning. David has been my mentor since high school and is also a good friend of my family. Over the last few years here at the U of O I have been meeting with David periodically, about once a term to discuss each other's progress and possible next steps. This time we met to discuss the possibility of a career in development.
Many people often overlook development as a viable career choice mainly because it's a relatively new field and demand has only increased in recent years. As a student fundraiser working for the Annual Giving Program, I have a head start on many people interested in pursuing careers in philanthropy because I have already had so much contact with donors. At the AGP I have talked with hundreds, maybe even thousands of alumni and potential U of O donors. As student callers, we are often in uncharted donor territory searching for the elusive big fish, while constantly updating the contact information for our thousands of other valued supporters. But for every rewarding and heartfelt conversation we have, there are a lot more ‘no's than ‘yes's on any given day. To put it bluntly, we face more rejection in three hours than many people deal with in a week.
However, the tough skin and persistence we develop is an esteemed quality in a fundraiser, and the applicability of such a skill is transferrable to many other professions such as sales and journalism. To bring this back to my conversation with David this week, the type of skills our student callers are gaining at the AGP are providing the perfect foundation for a career in development. Other universities, such as Penn State and Indiana U have internship programs for undergrads, recent grads, and graduate students interested in pursuing a career in philanthropy. These programs are a win-win for the university and the students because while the students are gaining valuable skills and real-world experience, the university is training its next generation of fundraisers that will be more educated in the ways of university development. Not to mention, many of these students may go on to work for large multi-national nonprofit organizations and foundations. The typical internship program involves a three-pronged approach of real-world experience, classroom teaching, and professional development. Interns spend about 32 hours per week working with development officers on writing gift proposals, donor research, and even field work. Eight hours per week are spent in the classroom learning about fundraising and philanthropy. The third prong of the program generally includes dining etiquette, conferences, and networking.
What David and I were discussing were the benefits of having one these internship programs here at the U of O. UO development is strong at every level, so why shouldn't we have a program that recognizes some of our top student fundraisers at the ground level and primes them for big-time careers in university development? It makes too much sense and would greatly benefit our already highly successful program. Because when it comes down to it, fundraising for the U of O is rewarding for everyone, students, donors, and fundraisers.