Never too Young

The Bryant Conference Center at The University of Alabama hosted the 13th annual National Outreach Scholarship Conference themed “Partner. Inspire. Change.” Sept. 30-Oct. 3, bringing together universities and communities from all over the country.

The event was a great way to showcase the way local and national communities have come together to better their homes. Unfortunately, I was only able to attend one speech, but Dr. George Daniels, my reporting and writing across media professor, was able to attend several speeches.

As an active member of the Tuscaloosa community, Dr. Daniels watched several of his students, both past and present, display their hard work and dedication to changing the community at the NOSC 2012. Knowing that young children are already working to better the place they call home is a comforting thought for the future.

Although I was unable to attend the majority of the festivities, I was able to hear one discussion on “Engaging Youth, Engaging Neighborhoods” given by Notre Dame faculty member Maria McKenna, three Tennessee high school students and Thomas Davis in the Wilson room of the Bryant Conference Center. The discussion was slightly dry, but seeing HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS impacting their hometown’s government was inspirational.

Seeing such young people influencing their community makes me realize that at the old age of 21, I, too, may change the world around me. I don’t need to be a high powered, authority figure to make a difference.

Having the courage, confidence in one’s own ability and volition to see a problem and fix it is the core to improving a community, even the world. THAT is beautiful.

Soledad O’Brien Visits the University of Alabama

 On Wednesday, November 9,  words of wisdom were spoken when award-winning news anchor Soledad O’Brien of CNN‘s “In America” documentaries stopped by the University of Alabama amidst her national tour to speak about her personal experiences as a journalist and as a woman of mixed ethnicities.  Her visit consisted of an hour long speech followed by a 30 minute question and answer session.

Thanks to my Introduction to Journalism professor, Dr. Daniels (you are now my favorite person), I was able to meet and speak with Soledad O’Brien first hand at her reception before her speech.  Unfortunately, her attention was desired by all in the room, so a group of several other students and I were only able to share her for only a few minutes.  Insisting we call her by her first name, we each bombarded Soledad with questions, me in particular asking about her travel experiences.

Image A charming woman, she captivated all in the room with her welcoming smile, intelligence and stories of her life.  Laughter erupted from whichever corner of the room Soledad, surrounded by admirers, happened to stand in.  I was privileged to have the opportunity to take a picture with Soledad and have her sign my book Latino In America.  Although I have both of her books, I only brought Latino In America for her to sign because I myself am part Portuguese (I know, I don’t look the least bit Latina).  Plus, I didn’t want to overload her with demands.

In the course of her speech–which I sat second row for (I almost died of happiness)–Soledad discussed the many difficulties she overcame as a woman of mixed ethnicities and as a working mom; the projects she took on, such as covering the tsunami in Thailand, hurricane Katrina, her documentary on Dr. Martin Luther King, “Words That Changed a Nation” and her latest documentary, “Black in America: Silicon Valley”; the struggle her parents faced as an interracial couple and her life growing up, as she describes herself, a “bi-racial black girl from Long Island”; all while encouraging students to challenge boundaries and have passion.

 

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