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Humans of Vanderbilt

Posted by on Wednesday, October 5, 2016 in Art, College Life, Culture, Speakers, Speakers Committee, Student Life, Vanderbilt Programming Board.

If you didn’t know this already as a dedicated Inside Dores reader, Vanderbilt is a pretty cool university. And one of the best things about being a cool, or at least well-known university, is that when the Vanderbilt Speakers Committee asks famous people to come talk to us, they actually agree to come. A prime example of this occurred yesterday evening, when Brandon Stanton came to Langford Auditorium and inspired thousands of members of the Vanderbilt community in a mere 90-minute presentation. By the way, this is the same committee that brought Bill Nye to campus way back in the day when I was a freshman.

The name “Brandon Stanton” might not immediately ring a bell, but the name “Humans of New York” definitely should. If you don’t know what that is, just go check out this Facebook page. Do it right now, I’ll wait.

Just a little sampling of the cool people who show up on HONY

The whole idea behind Humans of New York is that the artist/journalist, Brandon, walks around New York City and stops RANDOM people on the street to photograph and interview them. The project started simple, consisting of photographs accompanied by the occasional caption. However, as followers of HONY now know, it has evolved into an almost surreal phenomenon where Brandon asks people to share their deepest feelings, fears, joys, and burdens with the world.

If you couldn’t already tell, I am pretty obsessed with the whole idea behind HONY – I believe that everyone’s story is important and that we can learn a lot about people when we’re willing to listen. When I found out that Brandon was coming to speak at Vanderbilt, I immediately made plans to camp out at the Sarratt Box Office so that I could grab a ticket before they sold out.

Anyway, on to the actual event. I’ll be honest: going to hear someone speak who you only “know” through the Internet doesn’t always deliver. Sometimes, the speaker is lackluster, or uninspired, or takes on a different persona than the one you imagined in your head. Brandon Stanton, however, was none of these things: he was every bit as inspiring as you would imagine the man behind HONY would be. There was a quiet authenticity to him – a quality that begins to explain how he is able to tell other people’s stories in such an unfiltered and agenda-less manner.

As a bond-trader turned artist, Brandon’s perspective on his success was an inspiration to any Vanderbilt student in the middle of figuring out what they want to do with their life. In fact, I had to pull out my phone several times during his presentation to jot down what he ways saying. Here’s what I got:

1) Time, not money, is your most valuable resource. Make just enough money to be in a place where you can choose how to spend your time .

2) You can’t afford to wait for the perfect idea to come to you – if you do that, you’ll be waiting your entire life.

3) Following your dreams is nothing but hard work.

As you can probably imagine, this was one of the best events that I’ve attended during my entire time at Vanderbilt. Oh, and did I mention that student tickets were only $10?

Finally, in conjunction with this event, another student organization called Hidden Dores took on the project of showcasing the stories of our very own students here at Vandy, HONY style. From New York to Nashville, people are pretty cool.

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