“Embracing Intellectual Growth, the Academic and Creative Life of the University”
Challenge by Choice: an environment where participants are asked to search for opportunities to stretch and grow during the experience
I attended the Speak Up, Speak Out event which took place on Thursday, September 21st from 7-9 at Central Michigan University. I typically find political forums to be uncomfortable due to the polarization of ideology; it seems like a recipe for disaster to me because any people have a hard time understanding ideas that are not their own. However, I thought it would be a good experience for my professional development, as I will be working in politics and with the narrow-minded individuals that are inevitably in the field I previously mentioned. The forum was called Student Political Engagement, a town-hall like meeting targeted towards my generation and our voting practices.
When I planned to attend the event, I thought it would give me the opportunity to voice my thoughts and ideas on the forum subject to industry professionals and professors, some of which were previous professors of mine. I chose this event as a professional development opportunity; I hadn’t thought much about the topic, but a realized after researching the event that I actually had ideas. I intended to use the event to fulfill “Embracing Intellectual Growth, the Academic and Creative Life of the University” for my Honors protocol.
While I was at the event, I realized how passionate I can be about everything. Going into it not knowing much, I was pulled in by a lot of what the speakers and professors were saying. I took a lot of notes too so I had some way to processing my thoughts.
Some of the things I referenced in my notes included:
- Student Involvement and Civic Engagement is HIGH, while Political Engagement in LOW
- Panel Question: Are individuals of college age the most passionate but the least involved?
- Trust in government LOW, trust in individuals HIGH
- Does FEAR contribute the extreme political agendas?
While I did not think I would feel comfortable enough to answer some of these questions publicly, I did. My personal answer to the previously listed question was I personally focus on civic engagement because I can guarantee I will have an effect and create immediate change. I cannot guarantee that the candidate I vote for will take office or even implement the change I want. Others spoke on this issue too and on how the polarization of politics has turned them away. It was impressive and sad that Millennials all felt so similar in regards to politics, but sad that these feelings are preventing people from participating in government.
I think attending this event allowed me to put my ideas into context. I never verbalized why I felt detached from politics until this forum, which was a beneficial eye-opener. I also challenged myself at the event by presenting my political ideas in front of the forum. I realized that I want to be one of the few students of my generation to enjoy politics and feel like I am making a difference through something other than civic engagement (though that is still very important). One of the speakers on the panel said democracy cannot survive if the people choose not to participate; I do not want to see America move away from a Democracy.
Aside from the actual content of the forum, I was given ideas on what other job opportunities exist for political science majors like me that are not standard. A female on the panel ran for mayor of Detroit, but also was creating economic initiatives for the city. I have restricted myself to think I can either be a politician or a lawyer when there are so many more opportunities. She was a Central Michigan graduate, too; I was seeing the experiences I have to look forward to after graduation or even the RSOs and clubs currently on campus related to this topic. This is how the event ties into intellectual and academic growth. Because I attended this event, I already plan to attend the next forum on immigration in the hopes of learning more.