One of the most undervalued opportunities at Dartmouth, I’ve found, are guest lecturers.
In the past two weeks, I got the chance to hear from Joe Biden, Richard L. Bushman, and Zainab Salbi, three individuals whose work has had a positive impact on the world.
I’m sure lots of people heard about the Joe Biden speech–or rather, Jill Biden’s gaffe that left the college-age audience chuckling unapologetically. The link can be found here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IKfH_E-NsFQ
Less well known, was a lecture given by one of my personal heroes, Richard L. Bushman, who is a celebrity within the intellectual Mormon circuit. He talked about Mormonism and American politics, which is of course relevant due to the whole Mitt Romney campaign. Bushman is best known for his meticulously-researched biography of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling. I had actually met his wife Claudia at a Mormon feminist retreat the weekend before, so I was not as terrified as I otherwise might have been to go introduce myself after the presentation (normally I’m kind of shy).
One of the most inspiring talks I’ve heard in a long time came from Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International. The story she told about her efforts to start an international organization to help women in war zones was incredibly inspiring and and reminded me why I came to Dartmouth in the first place–because I believed that with the right training and education, I too could make a difference. She offered profound advice–I’m paraphrasing here, but she said something along the lines of, “Saving the world is not a warrior’s journey. You must get off the horse and put the armor down–the world won’t change out of anger, only out of love.” I left the presentation feeling inspired and able to recommit to my sometimes exhausting service-oriented endeavors.
I’m so grateful that I have such amazing opportunities to listen to the voices of such amazing people who are finding ways of doing good in the world in their respective fields. Presentations like those mentioned above help me to become more and more cognizant of the fact that there are, in fact, plenty of other ways to have a meaningful, service-oriented career that do not, in fact, involve medical school.