Artist, actress, and all-around funny woman Lily Tomlin once quipped, "I always wondered why somebody didn't do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”
This semester, I have been blown away by the amazing students at the University of Utah who seem to instinctively know that they are indeed the "somebody" needed to do "something." The Bennion Center continues to attract and educate a tremendous cadre of young people who are improving our communities, leading change, inspiring others, and making a big difference in people’s lives.
Last Tuesday, I got to participate in the Service House Dialogue where students Gina Ha, Oliver Anderson, and Taylor Stratford, facilitated a stimulating discussion on the role of art and artists in civic engagement. They adeptly provided a well-researched introduction about how art has, is, and will continue to generate important social commentary and civic action. The ensuing conversations touched on themes of art as a social connector, the speed and breadth of art dissemination through new technologies, and the ways in which art mobilizes individuals to create social change and help people in need.
, student leaders Emily Garfield and Kyleigh Kinzie stepped up with poise and professionalism to rally support and enthusiasm for our Project Youth among the Salt Lake School District principals. Next spring semester, these two dynamic student leaders will welcome more than 1,000 sixth graders from area Title I schools to the University of Utah to experience a small taste of college life at the . Emily and Kyleigh will coordinate hundreds of college student volunteers to serve as "mentors for a day" and share their educational journeys while they lead campus tours and activities. These young ladies have their work cut out for them, but after I witnessed them in action at the School District Building, I know the project is in good, capable hands. They’ve already had an overwhelming response from principals!
and , the Bennion Center’s amazing Student Board hosted a Fall Retreat for interested volunteers which included fun team building, food, dancing, and an important garden service project. I had fun getting to know more students in a townhall question and answer session. The students prepared thoughtful and interesting questions that triggered winning conversations. I look forward to working with these students to dream, design,and implement a great future for the Bennion Center.
Each student, in her or his own way, embodies the Bennion Center mission to foster lifelong service and civic participation by engaging the University of Utah with the community in action, change, and learning. And, each appears to have had the same epiphany as Lily Tomlin... that they are the "somebodies" here to make a difference.
Have a terrific week!