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Speaking to My Soul

Posted by on Friday, April 18, 2014 in College Life, Freshman Life, General Information, Speakers, Speakers Committee, Student Life, Vanderbilt Programming Board.

One thing I was excited for when I came to Vanderbilt was the opportunity to hear from and see celebrities, jk obviously I meant really incredibly moving, accomplished people. But in all seriousness, I never imagined the extent to which the speakers I would get to see would inspire, empower and impact me. I cried in all three of these speeches, for different reasons in each speech, but I walked away from all of them proud, inspired, grateful and reminded of some very important life lessons and values. Sorry, that just got somewhat emotional and cliché, but hear me out.

First, Vanderbilt’s 50th Annual IMPACT Symposium, hosted by the Vanderbilt Programming Board, brought to campus General Colin Powell, along with Representative Barney Frank (shout-out to my fellow Massachusetts people), Senator Olympia Snowe (shout-out to Maine people because y’all are fellow New Englanders, and I live in Maine sometimes.) The theme this year was “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness: Defining Civil Rights and Responsibilities,” and though I only attended General Powell’s talk because of midterms that week, I heard the entire event was phenomenal. General Powell’s speech along caused me to cry from gratitude, rethink what it means to be an American in light of the incredible freedoms we have, and tweet incessantly about my pride, gratitude, hopes and dreams. Seriously though, I am not making this up. It was incredible. You can ask the friends I went with who laughed at me crying (in a very acceptable, loving way I might add.) It was such a blessing to hear about General Powell’s experiences, as a child, a student, a young man and a White House advisor.

But wait, there’s more.

At the end of March, I was fortunate enough to attend the Cuninggim Lecture on Women in Culture and Society, hosted by our fabulous Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, and to experience the wonder and empowerment that was Courtney Martin. This talk on eating disorders, body image and, most notably, perfectionism, was quite possibly the most moving, beautiful, empowering, enlightening experience I have ever had. So much so that I ordered her book, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters, from my phone five minutes into the lecture, after which I tweeted about my new empowering role model probably 10 times. I have already started making my way through it, but even just her hour-long speech was incredible. Everyone I know who went was deeply impacted by it, and I am so thankful for the Women’s Center for putting this event on.

Lastly, this past week, I was fortunate enough to go see Josh Radnor (aka the actor who plays Ted in How I Met Your Mother,) for free by the way. Again, the Vanderbilt Programming Board Speakers Committee nailed it. Josh Radnor was incredibly personable charming, humorous and relatable. I laughed, cried and thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his life philosophy, experience filming one of my all-time favorite shows and so many funny stories. I also live-tweeted this event because, as you can probably infer, I get really excited about these things and want to share it with the world via twitter. Sorry, not at all sorry.

In conclusion, Vanderbilt has given me so so much in the way of knowledge, empowerment, independence and opportunity this year, and these speakers are no exception. Again, one more specific thank you and shout out to the Vanderbilt Programming Board, the VPB Speakers Committee especially, and the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center for hosting these incredible events. These are just a few of the fabulous speakers that Vanderbilt has drawn this year, and I cannot wait to see who the next three years bring to campus.

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