At Tuesday’s opening convocation, Day student body president Houa Lor ’13 challenged students to practice three art forms—habits in the art of learning that can help students succeed. An excerpt from his speech follows:
Most of you have been reading for a long time now, but this first advice is not your typical magazine or newspaper read. I am referring to the reading that requires you to find the main point and supporting details in a particular passage. Sounds easy? Because it is. But for me, it was much more of a struggle than anything…. The difficulty was not comprehension, but rather the lack of focus that was put into it. It is easy to quickly read an assigned chapter, close the book and go do something else. I am sure this is familiar to some of you. So remember to read your textbooks before going to class, and also take a few minutes to make marginal notes as a reminder of the main point and supporting details in each paragraph. At the end of your first semester, you want to be able to read with your eyes closed.
Every chance I get I enjoy writing personal reflections and poetry to soothe the mind and soul. …In the past two years of college, I discovered for myself that writing is a skill that is most crucial in any major even in sociology. …I have also learned that I still get intimidated with a 10-page paper assignment. But I tell myself; like poetry, writing an essay paper is more than just submitting it for a grade but is an art form that takes practice. It will be worth your while and college money to utilize the writing lab (located in the street level entrance of the library) or ask your English professors for assistance. Do not worry, it is only your fellow colleagues working in the writing lab and will not criticize you but will only make you a stronger writer. Remember, write not just to complete an assignment, but write to be good at it.
One of the first classes I took here at Augsburg was public speaking. I knew it was a valuable skill to have but never thought I will be preparing a speech for the entire college. Am I terrified of public speaking? Absolutely! I am also afraid of heights and death. But last month, I jumped out of a plane at 13,000 feet going down at a speed of 150 miles per hour terrified of a parachute accident and how my parents will react for not letting them know. And here I am facing my number one fear: public speaking….
The art of speaking is more than that of your daily conversations, or voicing your thoughts and opinions. Most importantly, you must be able to articulate the materials you read and the papers you wrote. Many philosophers and educators will say that a student solidifies their knowledge when they are able to teach another person what they learned. So speak with confidence. Speak to learn.
As you get to know more about Augsburg. You will also find that “Augsburg College educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.” You must also make commitment to yourself to perfect the art of reading, writing, and speaking, not only to pass your classes but also to be good at it. I would like to leave you all today with a quote from my favorite poet and writer, Maya Angelou that reads, “Nothing will work unless you do.”