Speak up or Stand Up: Your Voice Matters

Last night I went to a late dinner with a group of college students as part of my volunteer work weekend. As we were sitting down at the sports restaurant, one of the female students leaned over and whispered, “Well that’s uncomfortable.”

I asked her to tell me more about her statement and it turns out that a guy (not part of our group) said some rude and inappropriate comments to his buddy about the student.

At that moment, I had a decision to make. I asked our group to stand up, got our severs attention and told her we needed to switch tables and move into another area of the restaurant – far away from our current table.

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The Power of Being New

I’ve been in a few situations lately where I’m the new person and I’m not sure what to do.  I’ve seen others avoid these situations because it’s often uncomfortable to be unsure of the next steps. I used to think that I was the same way, but I’ve realized that I do know what to do and I’m comfortable getting what I need – so if I’m new or I’m the expert, I’m making the best of the situation.

Even if you’re new, you can be more organized in managing this situation.  I encourage you to consider these strategies that have worked for me:

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The CORE of finding where you belong

I’m teaching CORE 103, a first-year life-skills class at Drury University, and post my weekly blog focused on the class content.

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Try new things.

Being in a new place, meeting new people and starting over again can be scary.  But, this too shall pass–get out there and try new things.

  • Residential Students: meet new people in your living area, make an effort to find people who like the same things as you.
  • Commuter Students: Don’t eat lunch in your car–find a friend or a special place and make the best of your situation.

Sure it’s awkward at first, most things are.  But, trying new things makes the new things the comfortable things sooner than you’d think.

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Realize the power of connections.

Regardless of your college experience  you’re going to meet other people.  Some people will become your friends, some people will become mentors and some people will become your life-line later in your life.  Every person you meet matters and will make an impact on your present and your future.  You are in charge of what this impact will become.

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Know when to ask for help.

You don’t know all of the answers and you probably have some pretty important questions.  You have people around you everywhere that can and want to help you.  It’s not weakness to share your needs; it’s incredibly strong.

Your parents can’t solve all of your problems for you.

You are a competent individual that makes good decisions.  Sure, your parents/family/guardians may be a great sounding board, but you’ll grow by leaps and bounds by handling your own questions, addressing your own problems, facilitating your own meetings and finding your own solutions.

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Never, Never, Never give up.

You may spend most of your college years as a poor, starving college student that scrapes together a miracle each semester to remain in college.  It’s worth it.  These problems will test your perseverance  will make you stronger and will help you realize all that you can accomplish.  When you want something bad enough: Never, Never, Never give up.

The Core of Meaningful Involvement

To some, Meaningful Involvement is a concept that is simultaneously mysterious and obvious.  Sure, involvement seems easy and yes, experiences should have meaning.  But in a society that tells us “more is the answer!” how do you teach, and more importantly learn, the balance and importance of Meaningful Involvement?

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Do what you love. 

Part of getting involved in college is to build your resume.  But it doesn’t end there.  You need a sense of belonging, to make friends with similar interests and to spend time in activities that you enjoy.  Find positive experiences that you enjoy to improve your college years and beyond.

Change is the only thing that remains the same.

Your interests will change, your friends will change, your groups will change and the rules always change.  You need to be adaptable, progressive and confident as you push toward your goal.

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The Core Of What I Know

We have the power to make our lives how we want them to be.  It takes determination, focus and perseverance, but I know that the path to success is understanding the little things that make it possible.

Play to your strengths.

I’m driven, organized, and work best when I have tasks/reminders written down.  I know this and have managed my entire life through these successful practices. I never skipped a college class (undergrad or graduate), I always turned work in early, and I never waited until the last-minute. Keeping myself organized helps me lead a productive, low-stress lifestyle–now as much as back in college.

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Major accomplishments are really all about the details.

In 2011, I became a runner.  I ran 486 miles and decided that in 2012, I’d run 1000 miles.  It took work and dedication, but I did it–1030 miles.  How did I do it? I didn’t run 1000 miles in one day.  I had a SMART Plan: Run 5 miles a day, four days a week no matter if it was sunny, hot, snowy, cold, rainy, dark–it’s all about dedication.

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