“This I Believe” Event a Success By Lauren Carlson, Student Writer Student News Pictured (l-r): Dan Gedimen, Jennifer Dawson, Ph.D., Erin Lodes, Bridget Salisz, Sam Granger, James Clyde, Eddie Seymour, and Ed Balog.
Generally reserved for first-year students in a classroom setting, the fall common reading experience at Aquinas College was opened up to others as they were invited to write statements of personal belief. Inspired by This I Believe, an international organization that engages people in writing and sharing essays regarding their core values, the student read-in took place at the Moose Café. The This I Believe organization is based on a popular 1950s radio series of the same name hosted by Edward R. Murrow, and has collected essays from people of all walks of life that are available in books and on CDs, as well as through the website thisibelieve.org. The common read at Aquinas was headed by English Professor Jennifer Dawson and Director of Student Activities and Orientation Heather Hall. Dawson said focusing the importance of personal philosophies on the student body was “the best thing that we did,” because students were immersed in a semester-long process that pushed them to address their own thoughts and express ideas that have personal significance. “This is really an event by, about and for our community,” she said. At the Oct. 28 event, more than 30 students stood behind a microphone in the crowded café and shared their beliefs. At the end of the night, writers of five essays were chosen to introduce Dan Gediman, executive producer of the National Public Radio series “This I Believe,” a revival of the original series, at a special event Nov. 3.
Essays covered a wide range of topics. Senior Sam Granger reflected on the failing health and eventual death of his grandmother. “The first thing Death took from her was her short-term memory, and for a shortterm society, that is truly to lose one’s soul,” he said. James Clyde, a sophomore who has cerebral palsy, described his personal philosophy as one of overcoming obstacles. “I believe in the underdog,” he stated, telling of his dedication to his high school cross-country team despite difficulties caused by his disability. “Our dreams are the fuel that power us to realize the fact that nothing is impossible.” Sophomore Erin Lodes shared how “the endless possibilities and the pull of the page” drew her to follow her dreams of becoming a writer. Freshman Bridget Salisz talked about cancer and its impact on family and friends. Lastly, junior Eddie Seymour offered a heartfelt and humorous dedication to the unlimited food, friendship and memorable experiences to be found at the Wege Cafeteria. Gediman expressed his appreciation of the thematic use of “This I Believe” at Aquinas. “You’re my latest greatest favorite campus in terms of what you’re doing here,” he said. As Dawson prepares for next year’s common reading experience, “This I Believe” is an option. If the project is chosen for a second event, it will become more streamlined and perhaps include the Aquinas’ charismas, vital themes on campus and in this particular community, she said.
aquinas.edu | Spring 2011 | Student News 17