Category Archives: Colleges

Two Unforgettable Keynote Speeches and Why They Were So Good

It is that time of year when the successful, the esteemed, and the sages are orating all over the country. We’d all benefit from turning an ear to their decrees of wisdom.

2014 Graduation SpeechesThese days, we are all privy to the pearls wisdom from the elite through social media. As a result, we have on record some of the most profound and universal principles that have guided the successful for decades.

Graduation and commencements are still taking place. Bill and Melinda Gates will be speaking at Stanford in a few weeks. The first of its kind joint commencement speech will surely have some noteworthy truths shared. But for now, we have chosen these two very different speeches to glean from.

Colin Powell at High Point University

Colin Powell gave the May 3rd commencement address for High Point University. The General’s calm authority is powerful. His recent talk echoed much of his core beliefs regarding the importance of a life dedicated to service, compassion, and making the choice to be a problem solver for others.

Here are some of his words of advice for the class of 2014:

  • “Make sure you share the talent and the time and the treasure you have with others who are in greater need than you.”
  • “Go forth and raise strong families remembering that all you can ever leave behind is your reputation, your good works and your children for the next generation.”
  • “As you go through life, listen to the other side. Have your eyes and your ears and your heart open to counterviews…”
  • “If you want to save the world, start by saving just one kid. That’s what it’s all about.”

You can see General Powell’s speech here in its entirety.

Jennifer Lee at the University of New Hampshire

Jennifer Lee was the honored speaker at her alma mater, the University of New Hampshire. Who is Jennifer Lee? Lee is simply the first female director of a Walt Disney Animation Studios feature film and the first writer at any major animation studio to become a director. That is a big deal. Then she takes it up a notch and writes a little screenplay, Frozen, which goes on to win the Academy Award for the Best Animated feature film.

Looking like she may be a former model, Lee was humble and honest in her appeal to the graduating class of 2014. Like many creative people, it seems that this groundbreaking director has wrestled self-doubt and won. She shares, almost in the tone of a “12 Step meeting,” what happens when self-doubt takes root. She describes how it clouds everything you do and see. It is the opposite of wearing rose-colored glasses. Lee shares, “The lenses of self-doubt are nasty and thick, big and filthy and covered in swamp scum. They are the lenses of, ‘I’m not good enough.’”

Ms. Lee shares from her heart for nearly fifteen minutes. She takes us on her journey through adolescent and young adulthood. Her story is one that everyone can identify with on some level. All, except that blockbuster hit she has on her resume, of course!

Ultimately, Ms. Lee’s speech was worth sharing as another example of how women are respectfully breaking through ceilings. Even having the vulnerability to share authentically, in the vein of Brene Brown, is a bit revolutionary. She implores the graduates to join the revolution.

“When you are free from self-doubt, you fail better. You accept criticism and listen,” Lee told grads. “If I learned one thing, it is that self-doubt is one of the most destructive forces. It makes you defensive instead of open, reactive instead of active. Self-doubt is consuming and cruel and my hope today is that we can all collectively agree to ban it.”

Ban self-doubt? We couldn’t agree more.

There is also no doubt that there will be other great speeches given over the next few weeks that deserve to be shared. Let us know if you spot one so we can all learn from the lives of the successful.

~ Jennifer

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Useful Skills That English Majors Have

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Any English major will hear, or has heard, this question, “English, what can you do with that degree?” The short answer is; just about anything! Here’s why the skills that you learn with an English degree are transferable to any career. These same skills are also in high demand with employers.

The Skills an English Degree Gives You

Analytical Reading. If you can analyze a complex poem or novel, there is nothing that you can’t analyze. You also have the ability to present your analysis to others, either in written or verbal form.

Research. There is always a demand for ability to research and clearly present the results to others. With good research skills you are also able to effectively argue and defend any position.

Organization. Not only are you capable of organizing your desk; you are capable of organizing your ideas and supporting information. Organization of thought is needed to write any paper.

Articulate Writing. No English majors leave school without a few hundred pages of writing under their belts. All of this practice helps to make a more articulate writer. In order to write articulately you have to have a good grasp on grammar and spelling, as well as good ideas.

Creative Thinking. After reading though many creative works, you begin to think creatively. You can observe situations and think in directions that are unexpected.

Find many more skills that come with an English degree.

Skills Employers Want from Writers

Communication Skills. This is the most common skill that employers are looking for and is exactly what an English degree gives you. English classes focus on all three methods of communication; listening, speaking and writing. All of these are needed in any workplace.

Analytical and Research Skills. Employers are looking for someone who can look at a problem and solve it, bringing in other information if it’s needed. Both of these skills are honed with every research paper you wrote as a student.

Computer and Technical Literacy. With more businesses relying on technology it is important to know how to use basic programs like word processing programs and email. Anyone who spends a lot of time writing, like an English major does, will know word processing programs very well.

Flexibility/Managing Multiple Priorities. This means multi-tasking. Students who have successfully balanced a full class load with assignments all due at the same time knows this skill well.

Interpersonal Abilities. Can you work well with others? This is closely related with your verbal communication skills. If you can argue differing viewpoints on a novel without offending anyone then there is a good chance you can do this as well.

Planning/Organizing. Planning is a large part of being organized. As was noted above being organized is one of the many skills that come along with the English degree.

Multicultural Awareness. Workplaces are becoming more diverse and employers need employees who are able to cope with them. Reading about other cultures promotes awareness of them and English majors are well known for their reading skills.

Employers are looking for many diverse job skills. You will find that most of them are similar to the skills that come with an English degree.

So, What Can You Do With an English Degree?

To those who ask, “What can you do with an English degree?” boldly reply, “Anything I want to do!”      ~Megan

Note: Megan is completing her internship with My Web Writers this week and is about to graduate with an English degree  from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana.  Congratulations, Megan!

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