Remarks made by Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer Patricia M. Lampkin
At the Second-Year Dinner for the Class of 2013
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
6:00 to 9:00 p.m., in the Amphitheater
Thank you, it’s a pleasure to join you tonight on this beautiful spring evening.
The Second-Year Dinner Series is something I hold in high regard. It brings students, faculty, and administrators together in an informative, fun, and meaningful way. You also get a good meal -- something I always support for our students.
This dinner series has now become a tradition, and like any number of U.Va. traditions – the good ones, that is – the inspiration came from a student.
Ross Baird, who graduated in 2007, was the person behind the Second-Year Dinner Series. Among his many activities, Ross was class president. He became a politics major and later received a Truman Scholarship followed by a Marshall Scholarship to study at Oxford.
After starting his second-year, Ross came to me and said, “OK, I’m a second-year. What now?” At the time, Ross sensed many of the same things you have been experiencing this year.
As you know, second year begins with the newness of your first year under your belt. You know your way around, and you likely have formulated some interests, both academically and beyond.
Feeling a little lost, though, is not unusual for second year. If you no longer live in a residence hall, your circle of friends and associates may have grown closer yet smaller. All year, you have known that some serious decisions lie ahead, especially that looming decision about a major.
Even if you have known your major all along, or if you are in the Engineering or Nursing school, for instance, then you still may have felt – to use a cliché -- the “sophomore slump” this year.
So, the Second-Year Dinner is a time to focus on you and where you are in this special – often exciting, sometimes daunting – journey that is now at the half-way mark. Only half-begun, maybe we should say, instead of half-over since much still lies ahead for you.
How can you make the most of the next two years?
That’s what I would like to briefly touch upon tonight. Later you will hear about 13 of your fellow students chosen to be recognized tonight for contributing to the community in meaningful ways.
We know peers can be valuable teachers, so perhaps their stories will spark your own imagination to pursue new areas of interest and contribution.
With two years still ahead of you, you have the luxury of time to experience new things, to learn, to meet different people, and to offer your own unique contributions. Here are a few suggestions – some unsolicited advice – on how to make the most of your time between now and May 2013.
First, if you haven’t already, go to one of your professors’ office hours, even if you don’t have a specific question or problem. Go just to introduce yourself. Professors like to meet their students. Just ask one here tonight. An informal visit may open additional doors you never anticipated before. At the very least, you will make an important connection with a member of the U.Va. community. Meet administrators and staff, too. They love students and would welcome the opportunity to talk with you. Everyone within the University community is a potential teacher.
You may want to go a step further and ask a professor to lunch. You won’t even need to pay. Funding is in place through the College and the Office of the Dean of Students to ensure that students and faculty members take advantage of this opportunity. Include a friend or two if that would make it easier.
Second, make the arts part of your life here. Go to a concert in Old Cabell Hall, see a play in Culbreth or Helms, and visit the Art Museum. Use your Arts Dollars. The arts are alive at U.Va. and as varied as the artists themselves. Start enjoying the arts now, if you haven’t already, and they will be a trusted companion for life.
Third, get involved in student self-governance. Look for how you can make a contribution to the organizations that form the basis of student self-governance here: the Honor Committee and University Judiciary Committee, in particular. Find out what they do, who they are, and how you can play a role. These are systems that depend on the entire community. Make sure you are doing your part by to build a community of integrity and compassion.
Last fall, the Let’s Get Grounded campaign was launched to help combat bystander behavior. The program gives tools to students, faculty, and staff to help them speak up when they see behavior that is harmful. I encourage you to find out more about Let’s Get Grounded and how you can play a role. Getting involved, I know, is not something that comes easy for your generation. By taking individual responsibility, though, you will help make the overall community safer and healthier.
Fourth, find a way to give back to the University and to the community. This won’t be hard. Students volunteer in huge numbers for Madison House and other organizations. Be creative, though. Think about being a greeter on Move-In Day in August. The new first-year students and their parents will be full of appreciation and gratitude when you greet them on what is nearly always one of the hottest days of the year. Or volunteer to work in the University garden. It will be another opportunity to make connections within the community.
Fifth, figure out a way to study abroad. This takes some planning, but you can do it. Whether it is for January Term, the summer, or an entire semester, you will find numerous choices. If you need help making a decision, go to the International Studies Office and talk with an adviser. Student Financial Services also may be able to help if you are concerned about costs or need financial aid.
Sixth – really get to know the Grounds. Enjoy its history and unique sense of place. Tour the Rotunda if you have never done that. Study on the second floor of the Harrison Institute where the view is wonderful. Have lunch in one of the pavilion gardens. Go to one of the public nights at McCormick Observatory. Walk the Lawn under a full moon – preferably with friends, not alone. Study the trees and take a special look at the ones planted in honor or memory of special people who have been part of the University. Get to know Thomas Jefferson, not just as the Father of the University of Virginia, but as the complex and visionary individual that he was.
Seventh, and next to last: If you remember my talk during Orientation then you know how I feel about this: Unplug for at least one full day. Resist listening to your iPod or talking on your cellphone unless absolutely necessary. Pay attention to the people around you. When you walk across the Grounds going from class to class or to the library, look at people and say hello. It’s a way to connect, to make the Grounds a little friendlier and more welcoming. You will be amazed at what you see and hear when technology isn’t distracting you and dividing your thoughts.
The list could go on, but here’s the last one: It is something you can do tonight. Introduce yourself to someone here whom you don’t already know. It can be another student or a faculty member or administrator. Take a minute to say hello and find out about one another. Ultimately, it’s the people who make this University special, and ultimately it will be the people from here who will make a difference in your life now and in the years to come.
In closing, I wish you well as you finish up second year and look ahead to the next two years. You have much to look forward to.
Best wishes in pursuing academic work that interests and excites you, in building connections and friendships, in reaching out to the community around you, and in making your time at U.Va. the best that it can possibly be.
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Last Modified: Tuesday, 26-Apr-2011 09:38:57 EDT
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