One of the best things about a small school like Oglethorpe is the potential for students to contribute in a big way to the campus, either through student organizations or by working for the school itself. When I returned for my senior year after a year of studying in Japan, I wanted to make sure that I left my mark on the school before graduating and going into the real world; I took every opportunity I could find to be more involved, which initially included taking a more active role in my fraternity, Chi Phi, and joining SGA as a Senior Senator.
In August 2012, I met fellow student Mon Baroi in the university’s café. We immediately connected based on our interest in technology and web start-ups, and through Mon, I learned about Pegasus Creative, Oglethorpe’s student communications agency. Mon, who at the time was working for Pegasus on a Test Drive ad campaign for adult students, sold me on what sounded like a great opportunity: the chance to work with a talented group of people whose job was to make this university look good.
As a Pegasus web content developer, I was responsible for helping to maintain Oglethorpe’s websites. This included co-planning the design of the new summer and special events sites on WordPress, making timely edits to out-of-date web pages, and editing images and videos to be put on Oglethorpe’s websites. Also, I got the opportunity to look at Oglethorpe’s Google analytics statistics, which gave me tremendous insight into the kinds of traffic Oglethorpe attracts online on a regular basis.
The most interesting thing about working at Pegasus was integrating what I have learned in my business courses with the work I was doing with online media, which would usually be stereotyped as communications field work. As a senior business administration major, I have pretty much gotten a taste of everything the business division at Oglethorpe has to offer, from management courses that evaluate business strategies, competitive advantages, and internal and external forces, to economics courses that analyze the relationship between supply and demand and satisfying needs in the free market, and marketing courses that look into how producers attempt to read consumers and shape products for a target market that will encourage transactions and customer satisfaction. When I decided to take this internship in my last spring semester, I saw it as a great opportunity to apply what I had learned in these courses to online media.
At Pegasus, I got to work with an awesome and fun group of people that made me look forward to coming into the office for work. My experience with Pegasus was a great way to give back to Oglethorpe, and being involved behind-the-scenes at Pegasus has given me technical and analytical skills that will no doubt prove invaluable in the business world after I graduate.
Last October, Awet Woldegebriel ’14 submitted an application to attend the fifth annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U), launched in 2007 by President Clinton to engage the next generation of leaders on college campuses around the world to turn ideas into action. CGI U builds on the successful model of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which brings together world leaders to take action on global challenges.
Awet’s passion and commitment, coupled with his story of an early life as a refugee, stood out. He was not only invited to attend, but asked to be a speaker.
Awet was welcomed to the stage by The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart, which he says was “a true honor.” During his speech, he talked about his nonprofit Knowledge Aid, which gathers and ships books from the United States to libraries in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Kenya. “The initiative,” he explained, “is driven by an old but still widely referred to proverb that states: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
The goal of Knowledge Aid is to make aid sustainable and to offer children the chance to enjoy their childhood through books. Awet, who still has memories of the devastation he faced in war-torn Ethiopia and his home country of Eritrea, was able to regain some of his lost childhood through reading books by Dr. Seuss.
“They made me laugh, they made me silly, they made me imagine what a full childhood would have been like,” he says. “And that is why my initiative is so important to me… whatever your initiative, make sure it does justice and represents the passion you have for it.”
Thanks to Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Awet was able to meet and gain support for Knowledge Aid from many influential people, including former journalist Amanda Lindhout, musician Hugo Levy, supermodels Christie Brinkley and Anna Maria Lewiarz, and Argentinian Education Minister Esteban Bullrich. His facebook page for Knowledge Aid, which had 147 “likes” before the conference, now has over 2200.
Awet, who is now a CGI ambassador and recruiter, will be co-hosting an informational meeting with President Larry Schall on Monday, October 22, from 7:00-8:00 p.m. in Lupton Auditorium.
“We want to encourage more Oglethorpe students to take part in the conference and also grow their ideas,” said Awet. “You (will) have access to the people you don’t have access to, so your ideas can expand and grow through CGI. We will help you to accomplish those ideas and initiatives.”
If you’re interested in nonprofit work, social enterprise, or in giving back—then this meeting is for you! Come learn more about CGI’s purpose, benefits, and how you might get the chance to attend the next CGI meeting…and learn how you can propel your ideas and make a difference.
As a senior at Oglethorpe, my current goals involve deciding where I want to go with my life, which paths I wish to embark upon and which journeys I will undertake. Ironically, on a physical plane, my navigational abilities are not exactly “present.” Maps and signs befuddle me, as do landmarks, and I can find myself getting lost in ways that are so bizarre as to be impressive… from a certain angle, that is. While my “impressive” skills at getting lost were no different at Georgia State’s Modern Media Conference (it took me half an hour to find the cafeteria), in a deeper sense, there was some direction to be found—the type of direction that every college senior ultimately desires.
I chose to attend Georgia State’s conference because of my editor position with The Tower literary magazine, as well as my internship with Oglethorpe’s Pegasus Creative (the University Communication department’s newly-launched student communications agency that gives us the opportunity to gain real world experience in a collaborative team environment). The conference, held September 28-29, was packed with more than 20 guest speakers from major media outlets such as CNN, ESPN, WSB-TV, HLN, and WXIA. I was accompanied by Director of Communications Renee Vary, Assistant Director Debbie Aiken ’12, and Pegasus Creative’s Web Content Development Intern Debra Bryant ’12 (who also came on behalf of The Nightcap, the Evening Degree Program’s newsletter.)
The four of us had numerous lectures to choose from, some headed by photojournalists, others by newspaper editors, and a few by the professors at Georgia State themselves. The variety of seminars offered went far beyond what I had anticipated, and I used up an entire booklet taking notes on what was discussed.
Throughout the course of the day, I was able to attend five sessions, ranging from a passionate lecture called “Get to the Damn Point!” (something which I have admittedly not done yet—read on!) to an informative presentation on what makes student government an exciting body to report on. (As a member of our school’s SGA, this was especially topical for me!). Journalist and Editor Michael Koretzky ended the conference with several stories concerning his own experiences in the professional world; he encouraged the audience to “be fired for the right reason,” before recounting several situations in which he was fired for just that.
So, what is the “darn” point of me writing this? Well, there are several points I wish to share with you—I had fun, I learned a lot, and I hope to have more opportunities like this in the future. Is this where I want to go with my life? Do I want to work in PR, journalism, broadcasting, or some other form of media? I don’t know, but I now see them as options, which puts me a step closer to finding my way than I was before.
The Oglethorpe University Museum of Art has opened the doors for its newest exhibition, “Burden of Proof: National Identity and the Legacy of War,” which explores the juxtaposition of the American and Vietnamese experience of the Vietnam War and its aftermath. The exhibit will run through December 9.
Artists Dinh Q. Lê, Sheila Pree Bright, Keisha Luce and Kirk Torregrossa are featured, as well as Northern Vietnamese propaganda posters from The Shelley and Donald Rubin Private Collection. The exhibition was inspired by the campus-wide reading of Tim O’Brien’s book The Things They Carried, a fictionalized account of the author’s time as an American soldier in Vietnam.
“The cultural, physical, and emotional dissonance explored by these artists raise many questions regarding the burden of war,” said Elizabeth Peterson, curator and director of the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, “It’s a legacy that crosses borders and is carried through generations.” Peterson joined the museum in August 2012.
Bright’s Young American series features photographs of young adults in various poses with the American flag. Bright wants the body language of the models and the different positions of the flag to raise questions about what it means to be an American in Generation Y. Each photo is named after the person photographed and is accompanied by a personal statement which reflects the person’s ideas about being American.
Lê’s large-scale photographic collages contrast photos of the Vietnam war with iconic Hollywood imagery to contrast the realities of war with the Western perspective of it. Lê was born in Ha-Tien, Vietnam, emigrated to Los Angeles at age 10, and now splits his time between America and Vietnam. His collages are made up of photos woven together using traditional Vietnamese techniques and are inspired by his own memories of the war, both real from his childhood in Vietnam and imagined, inspired by American war movies.
Luce’s sculpture series Sum & Parts depict the malformed bodies of Vietnamese people living with the effects of long-term exposure to Agent Orange, an herbicide used in the Vietnam War. In an interview with Vermont Public Radio, she says, “they are difficult bodies to look at. Part of what I was trying to do is to bring this type of body—the war body—into the public sphere.”
Torregrossa’s photographs help to achieve this goal by allowing viewers to see both the sculptures and the people that inspired them. They document every step of the two month long Sum & Parts journey, and Torregrossa says of his series, “my intent is to craft a story that illustrates not only the horrible long-term effects of chemical warfare, but with resiliency and bravery, how the people involved soldier on.”