>> DR. VIZZINI: Thank you so much.
Good morning. I am Tony Vizzini.
I’m the Provost and Senior Vice President. I’m here to welcome you to the 2nd
Annual Academic Convocation. This is an event that aims to bring our learning community together to celebrate a new academic
year and tie into the ideas and themes from the WSU Reads Program. Our common read book
this year is The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, by Brooke Gladstone,
and it’s being used in a number of classes this year and serves as the foundation for
many of our programs that will unfold over the coming months. This year, we challenge
you to find positive ways that you can influence the world around you.
I know that many of you are watching this on a streaming video and I want to welcome
you to this as well. A special shout‑out to our PA students in Old Town.
So as we begin our program, I would like to welcome President Bardo to the stage to kick
off our event. Help me welcome President Bardo.
(Applause)>>PRESIDENT BARDO: Dr. Vizzini, thank you
very much. It’s great to see this good crowd in here. Many years ago I used to teach
in this room, and when it’s full, it’s a serious class. For how many of you is this your
first semester at Wichita State? Would you raise your hands?
(Applause)>>PRESIDENT BARDO: Those of you that are
first‑year students, you are part of the largest class in the history of the University. (Applause)
>>PRESIDENT BARDO: We’re really excited about that. Unless we really messed up our
data, our enrollment is going to look great this fall.
I want to talk to you a little bit about who you are and what it means to be a college
student. I want to talk to you just a minute about why Wichita State will give you an opportunity
that you probably may not have thought fully about yet. If you came from another university,
if you came from high school, you bring some kind of a track record with you. And I used
to tell students to kind of close your eyes and think about all the things you did, who
you went out with, what you did when you weren’t studying, what classes you liked, what music
you listened to, what video games you play, take all of that and put it in a little box
in your mind, and in your mind, slide it under your bed. Those are really important things
that are who you were, but they don’t have to be who you are, and they don’t have to
be where you’re going. Now, for some of you they will be, and that’s
terrific. But for others, this is a time to start anew. It’s a time to think differently
about what’s possible, and so think about that little box. It’s an important box,
and it will be important to you the rest of your life. Keep it safe, keep it in your
memory, but just remember that whatever happened before you came here really doesn’t have to
determine what happens while you’re here. You have opportunity to make yourself who
you want to be. Now, the second thing, universities are a
place of challenge, and that’s not comfortable for a lot of people. They like going through
life reading their own social media so that everybody agrees with them, and if they meet
somebody that disagrees with them, it’s a traumatic and difficult day. That is the
exact opposite of what a university is. From the founding of the University of Paris
and the University of Bologna back in the Middle Ages, universities have been about
wrestling with ideas, hearing people with whom you disagree, hearing things that offend
you, and figuring out why they offend you. No one’s asking you to change who you are.
No one’s asking you to believe differently. What a university is about is causing you
to reflect on the meaning of what you’re doing. So if you want to be an accountant, that’s
super. But you’re not going to account 24 hours a day. You’re going to do other things with
your life. And so a university should teach you how to be a great accountant. If we’re
not doing that, we’re really messing up. But we should also teach you how to be around
people that don’t look like you. We should also teach you about how to deal with people
who don’t sound like you, care about the same things you do, or believe exactly the opposite
of what you believe. We’re not asking you to change anything about
who you are, but we are asking you to wrestle with ideas, because out of that wrestling
with ideas, something great will happen. Some of you will change your major. I thought
I was going to be a dentist. I took a class because I had to have a requirement
filled, and I was in line, and I turned to a friend of mine and I said, I need another
social science. He said, oh, why don’t you take sociology. I said, what’s that? Oh,
they talk about people in groups. I thought, well, that’s as good as anything. Six years
later I popped out a Ph.D. in sociology and became a professor. Never heard of it when
I got in line for my courses. So you’re going to get challenged in areas
you’ve never heard of before. You’re going to be expected to hear things you’ve never
heard before. I’m not asking you to believe them. We’re not asking you to agree with
them. But we are asking you to give others the right to speak and to be able to reflect
on, do I believe that or do I not? The essence of a university is not what degrees
we offer, what sources we have, what departments we have, what colleges we have. The essence
of a university is the ability to wrestle with ideas, to think, to try, to explore,
to grab that thing you never thought you could grab and to wrestle it to the ground and understand
it. And out of that, you’ll learn a lot more about who you are, what you value as
a human being, and you will become a much better contributor to your family, to your
community, to society, but even more than that, when you look back on your life, you
will be able to say, I mattered. It made a difference that I was here and that I did
a good job as an accountant or an engineer or a social worker or a social reformer or
a physician or a lawyer. What matters is you can put that little box under your bed,
pull it out every once in a while, remember who you were, but think about the opportunity
you have while you’re at Wichita State to make yourself into who you can be. It’s
a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity. That’s why we have academic convocation, to
bring people together, to think about really critical issues of our day and how they relate
to education. You have come to a wonderful university. I taught here early in my career.
My wife has three degrees from Wichita State, and the first chance I had to come back, I
grabbed it, and I’m so glad to do so. You know, you look at the morning; it’s absolutely
gorgeous. We’ve got the largest freshman class in history. We’ve got lots of new
students on campus, new athletic league, doing exciting things. You know, it is a great
day to be a Shocker. Thank you all for being here.
(Cheers and applause. )>> DR. VIZZINI: Thank you, President Bardo,
for being the educator that you are. Each year, we recognize faculty for setting the
Shocker standard for teaching and research activities at WSU. On the screen, you will
see the name of our nine faculty members who were honored during the 2017 Faculty Awards
last May. Faculty Award winners, please stand as I read your name to be recognized.
Please hold your applause until the end. Academy for Effective Teaching Award, Ramazan
Asmatulu, Gayla Lohfink. Excellence Award for Community Research, Trisha Self. Excellence
in Research, Ramazan Asmatulu. Excellence in Teaching, Kim Cluff. Faculty Risk Taker,
Khawaja Saeed, Jingjun Xu. Leadership in the Advancement of Teaching Award, Gergana Markova.
Young Faculty Risk Taker, Ali Eslami. Young Faculty Scholar, Esra Buyuktahtakun Toy.
Thank you for your outstanding work in your field and within our community.
(Applause)>>DR. VIZZINI: At this time I would like
to introduce Dr. Kim Cluff to the stage to introduce your first student speaker. Help
me welcome Dr. Kim Cluff. (Applause)
>> DR. CLUFF: Thank you. Alongside of our outstanding faculty are students who are
positively contributing to Shocker Nation and beyond. This year, part of the program
includes a student spotlight for which we asked students to submit a story on how they
are influencing the world around them. We have two incredible stories that we will be
sharing with you today. Our first speaker will be Subash Bhandari. He is a sophomore
pursuing a major in Biomedical Engineering with a minor in Chemistry. He is 19 years
old from Nepal and the first in his family to go to college. He is a member of the
National Society of Collegiate Scholars and a GEICO Scholar. He is an Engineering Undergraduate
Peer Partner or UPP mentor, is involved with the Biomedical Engineering Society and serves
as the Vice President of the Wichita State Table Tennis Team. He has been actively
involved in undergraduate research since he arrived at WSU. He has been working in the
WSU Biomedical Sensors, Imaging, and Modeling Engineering Laboratory. During this past
summer he was designing biosensors to detect the presence of melanoma skin cancer. He
has started working on making bench top models for the detection depth of biofluid shifts
in the brain. Please help me welcome him to the stage.
(Applause)>> SUBASH BHANDARI: It’s a story dated
12 years ago but still resonates in my mind. It’s a story of struggle, a struggle of a
poor boy who got bullied in school. The boy thinks and rethinks every day to kiss
a path he had chosen to be a biomedical engineer so that one day he can save the lives of innocent
people dying back in his country who simply died because of lack of medical equipment
or the inability to afford them. But his parents think less about themselves
but more about collecting money to send their son to the United States of America. The
day finally comes. The boy gets in an airplane for the first time to fly halfway across the
globe, loses his phone, misses his flight in London, does not get his bags in Chicago,
and spends an hour crying because he does not know how to put the next piece in the
puzzle. Someone was supposed to pick the boy up at
3:40 p.m., but they returned and the boy didn’t show up until 7:00. In fact, the boy didn’t
show up until midnight. It’s a story of the guy who got lost at Chicago airport but
finally ends up having a dinner at a house with people from Germany and Turkey.
I still remember those nights when I used to pull my father’s index finger home from
school. The walk would take 20 minutes, and those 20 minutes were questions about
what the longest river of the world was. Those were the moments when my father told
me how to be respectable and dream big. I love what I do and think of influencing
other people through my decisions. I am truthful to myself because a sense of strength
really motivates me to do something new and great.
I got involved on campus. I think of participating in activities and opportunities no matter
if I’m capable or not. You have known it so far, but it’s the story of that last guy
who comes to WSU on the 21st of August, emails a biomedical professor on the 22nd, talks
and get interviewed by the professor on the 23rd and starts the path of innovation as
an undergraduate research assistant to do research on melanoma cancer.
As it may seem difficult as an international student, the boy gets his first paycheck from
WSU in September, starts getting involved in campus on October, gets a 4.0 in December,
participates in the table tennis tournament in February.
It’s a story about me, ladies and gentlemen. It’s the same story that I experience how
it feels how to walk on 105 degrees in the sun for 30 minutes to the lab and back home
every day, including the weekends. Getting expensive biomedical equipment and research
takes a lot of equipment. Here’s the message that I give to everyone in here. If I know
of something that can change you, it’s your willpower. It’s the hard work and dedication
you put in to accomplish something you really want. It’s never too early to begin things.
I am here for a reason; so you are. Do you know what influences the world? Let’s
not overexaggerate. Begin with something small. Influence a single person near you
to do things, to be innovative, to influence other people, help them build connections.
I inspire you to get involved with research on campus. I suggest people to stop complaining
about things because life owes us nothing. We have to create things. But do you know
what, begin from something small. Meditate every morning. Speak politely with people,
because that’s what changes other people. It changes yourself. It changes your thoughts.
It changes your words and your actions, and that is what melts people’s heart.
I am very fortunate today. Today is my dad’s birthday. I never got a chance to wish my
dad a happy birthday face‑to‑face because I lived in a boarding school since starting
in Grade 3. I would like to wish my dad a happy birthday. Thanks for being a role
model in my life. Do you know what? I still remember your bye‑bye kiss and the
words you whispered in my ears. I hear, I forget. I do, and I understand. Yes,
I’m doing great things here. Yes, this is my story. A story of struggle and also a
story of hope. Thank you very much. (Applause)
>>DR. CLUFF: Thank you, Subash. Your accomplishments are incredible, and we look
forward to seeing more from you in the field of biomedical engineering and chemistry.
Our next speaker is Vanessa Rials. She is a graduate of Wichita State pursuing a master’s
degree in Social Work. She is originally from Lawrence, Kansas and after high school
graduation, she decided to call Wichita home. She is involved in the Big Brothers and Big
Sisters program and also serves as the Unit Director of the Boys and Girls Club of South
Central Kansas Opportunity Drive location here in Wichita, Kansas. She loves the work
that she does and loves being part of such a wonderful movement. Please help me welcome
Vanessa to the stage.>> VANESSA RIALS: Thank you. Life is
full of positive experiences. Some we can recall in detail; some we can’t, but in one
way or another they influence the way that we think or act. One positive experience
can change a life. So what is a positive experience? It’s a moment generated by a
combination of our talents, beliefs, and passion. I remember sitting at a university class my first year here at Wichita State. The professor
asked for volunteers, and I was a transfer student determined to step out of my comfort
zone, so I raised my hand. She explained that she was going to ask a series of questions
on diversity, and we each would have to answer. I was about fifth in line, so I had plenty
of time for that panic to set in. I was experiencing a level of vulnerability that
I had never experienced before, kind of like right now.
(Laughter.)>> VANESSA RIALS: After I spoke, something
amazing happened, though. People clapped. In a room full of strangers, my own personal
story allowed me to connect so quickly and I felt supported. I remember leaving class
thinking, wow, that was one great experience. Throughout middle school and high school,
I was bullied and because of that, I never really felt like I had a voice. After that
experience, I started to believe that not only did my voice matter, but it could make
a difference. And I decided to act. Aristotle says, “Where your talents and the
needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.” Simply meaning, in order to find
our calling, all we have to do is figure out what our natural abilities can answer the
call of someone in need. One evening some friends and I made burritos
for those experiencing homelessness. We were in downtown Wichita handing them out.
We took time to hear their stories, setbacks, hopes, and dreams. We used nothing more
than our time and privilege to show people who are often overlooked that they, too, mattered.
I remember one woman coming up to me, and I handed her the burrito and her eyes filled
up with tears. She explained that she didn’t know where her next meal was going to come
from, and she thanked me for giving her hope. Another experience was a debate night feeding members from the local Boys and Girls Club.
Myself and a handful of WSU students helped teens prepare, learning the fundamentals of
debate, working and researching on their topics and presentation, and the debate was held
here. For many of these students it was the first time stepping foot on this campus
and speaking in front of an audience. I was sitting with one of the members after,
and I’ll never forget what they said to me: Miss Vanessa, I never thought that I was important
enough for people to know my name. I never thought that I could do something like this.
I hope I get to do it again. That one positive experience awakened a belief
in that member that he didn’t know he had. Think of the many positive experiences you
could create. You don’t have to have a title or a lot of money. All you have to have
is the desire to make a change and the belief that you can put those ideas into action.
You matter. You can change a life. Ask yourself, what would I do if I knew I
couldn’t fail? And do it. Many of you are familiar with the term “mission statement.”
It’s a statement that captures goals and philosophies, and I challenge you to create a mission statement
for your life. And I’d like to leave you with mine: I’m living with a purpose that’s
bigger than I am. I’m here to advocate and empower individuals and communities not for
a paycheck but because it’s my passion. One person can make a difference. One person
can be the reason why someone decided not to give up. I want to be, and I can be,
that person. I’m bold enough to say I can, and I’m humble enough to say I have a lot
to learn. I surround myself with people I want to be like. I ask questions and make
mistakes and always do more than what is required. I have learned that in life it’s the things
that the world cannot take away that matter the most. That’s the love we share, give,
receive, and the positive experiences that we create.
That’s my mission statement, and I challenge you to create your own. Thank you.
(Applause)>> Brooke Gladstone is a Peabody award‑winning
journalist. She is the co‑host of “On the Media.” Prior to that, she was a Moscow‑based
reporter for NPR, senior editor of NPR’s “All Things Considered” and senior editor of the
“Weekend Edition” with Scott Simon. She is also the author of “The Trouble With
Reality: A Rumination on Moral Panic in our Time,” and “The Influencing Machine,”
a media manifesto in graphic form. Listed among the top books of 2011 by the New Yorker
and among the 10 Masterpieces of Graphic Nonfiction by the Atlantic. Please help me welcome
Brooke Gladstone.>>BROOKE GLADSTONE: Welcome to college,
everyone, or welcome back. I realized watching those extraordinary speeches that I was asked
about video and I said I didn’t have any, but Professor Ray the photography teacher
and my daughter took me to the rodeo bar last night and I got on the bull and they filmed
it, and I realized I could have put that up there, but it would have been a short video.
These are amazing times we live in, the more traumatic among them; I call it a class of
civilizations. Certainly, the war we seem to be in with Mother Nature could make it
seem almost Apocalyptic, but I like to take the long view. Humans are durable. We
live in fear of what we don’t understand; the unfamiliar, the new. We live in fear
of our technology, because it’s evolved faster than we have, and it always has. Around
370 B.C. Plato tells us Socrates disdained writing. In 1883 experts condemned foolish
experts with overtaxing their children’s minds with reading, especially girls’ minds, because
they could go insane. I’m not kidding; you’ll see it in “The Influencing Machine.” In
the 1930s radio drama was said to induce disabling nightmares in children. Television, we all
remember, or some of us will, was called a vast wasteland. Frankly, you’ll see in the
book that I lean toward the wisdom of the late lamented author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide
to the Galaxy who predicted the smart phone decades before it existed. He came up with
a set of rules that describe our reaction to technology: One, anything that is in
the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and just a natural part of the way the world
works. Two, anything that’s invented between when you’re 15 and 35 is new and exciting
and revolutionary, and you can probably get a career out of it. Three, anything invented
after you’re 35 is against the natural order of things.
(Laughter.)>>BROOKE GLADSTONE: Of course, the Internet
has escalated that fear, especially those of us over 35. I mean, come on, it spawns,
bullies, stockers and scam artists and legions of innocent victims; it degrades personal
relationships; it shreds the social fabric, suppresses empathy and causes ADHD. And
the children, how do we protect the children? And all of that is true, but it also offers entry into the accumulated knowledge of the
world, the wisdom of the ages, encounters and experiences once unimaginable. It provides
anyone with the chance to participate in the rich creations of countless minds, for those
who like that sort of thing. Ultimately what the Internet does is make us more of
what we already were. For the bitter or spiteful, it provides an opportunity for even
more malice and aggression. For the innocent or heedless, danger lurks behind every click.
For the curious, oh, what wonders there are! Humans are a durable species; but humanity,
our individual humanity, is fragile. We know all about the neuro science that describes
technology, the stimulation it offers, the utter lack of down time, of quiet. Boredom
can interfere with our ability to imagine, to ponder, to plan, to empathize. Science
tells us technology is rewiring our brains, and since our ancestors first picked up a
club, it always has. The problem, you see, doesn’t start with our smart phones. The
problem begins in our heads, the way we’re wired from the moment we’re born.
So cast your mind back a mere seven months after the Presidential election. Half the
country feared we might succumb to horrors not experienced in our lifetime. They blamed
the other half, also the media, especially cable. George Orwell’s fantasy “Nineteen
Eighty‑Four” was flying off the shelves, a bestseller 70 years after it was first penned.
Written in 1949 after the horrors of Nazi devastation, he wrote a cautionary tale of
fashionism in its most brutal form. No one was free of crying eyes. Love was a crime.
Illegal thoughts were prosecuted and crushed. History was rewritten daily, and citizens
were fed a steady diet of lies and absurdities that changed the whim of Big Brother.
But there was another fantasy written in the previous decade, Brave New World, and it paved
a different world of positive future. In that world, people were genetically engineered
for their roles in life, well‑fed, complacent and put on steady drugs and government‑sanctioned
orgies. Before the government we know today, critics wrote amusing ourselves, and in it
they compared Orwell’s vision in 1984 to Huxley’s Brave New World ‑‑ sorry, what Huxley
feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book for there would be no one who wanted
to read one. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared
that the truth would be drowned in a sea. Orwell feared that we will be a captive culture.
Huxley remarked that those ever on the alert to oppose tyranny failed to take into account
man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions. In Brave New World they are controlled by
inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared
that what we love will ruin us. It’s so easy to amuse ourselves to death metaphorically
speaking, because distraction feels good, too, too, good.
Here’s the first study I’ll cite, and like most, it involves undergrads like yourselves,
because universities conduct most of these studies because, hey, you’re there and usually
they pay. Three or four years ago a couple of researchers, one from the University of
Virginia and one from Harvard, asked students to sit alone and to entertain themselves with
their thoughts. This comes, by the way, from the brand‑new book, Bored and Brilliant.
Okay. So once inside the room, they were exposed to different stimuli like music and
pictures and given mild electric shocks. Then the researchers asked them if they would
pay to avoid being shocked. Not surprisingly, most of them, 42 out of 55, said they would. Now, here’s where things get interesting.
After this conversation, each student was asked to spend the next 15 minutes alone just
thinking. They could press a button to give themselves a shock, if they wanted to. Did
they? Yeah, they did. Even people who said that they would pay to avoid it, a third
of the men and a quarter of the women were apparently so unnerved by the boredom that
they preferred the distraction of a shock. One participant shocked himself 190 times. (Laughter.)
>>BROOKE GLADSTONE: Recent data suggests that people are shifting their attention every
45 seconds when they work online. An email from a boss or friend, a colleague poking
in her head with a quick question, maybe a preplanned limited peek at Facebook. But
here’s the thing, let’s say that the interruptions wane a little, you know what happens; you
interrupt yourself at the same rate. Interruptions are self‑perpetuating. They’re a rhythm.
They get into your brain. Suddenly it feels weird when you aren’t interrupted.
Now, the thing is that once not that long ago half the time we spent awake was spent
daydreaming. That seems like a lot. But think about the time you aren’t working.
You’re waiting in line for something, maybe you’re sitting in the doctor’s office, or
you’re on public transportation, or maybe you’ve just finished one task and you’re pausing
before you do another one, or you’re waiting for the water to boil, countless things, technical
things that you do in your life that don’t take brain power take up about half your day.
Once that time was spent daydreaming. Now that is no longer the case. There’s a lot
of research that demonstrates that’s no longer the case, and it sounds like good; right?
Daydreaming is a waste. But it’s not. There’s also a lot of research that demonstrates,
as Jobber wrote in the New Yorker, that mental down time, I mean blank time, I mean bored
time, helps the brain rehearse what has been recently learned. It replenishes our reserves
of attention and delivers some great creative insights. I know that even when I get stuck
on writing a radio script I have to just sometimes just go outside and stand there with nothing.
I have nothing in my mind except I have a pad in my hand. And I just try and clear
things for a second. And it’s amazing, it’s as if those ideas are there. But I’m a queen
at distractions; I have 8 games of Words With Friends going simultaneously at every moment. So boredom, it feels like crap, but we often
discover that a solution to an unsolved problem happens precisely when we let our attention
wander away from it. Jobber wrote: We could try to navigate what circumvents the
unpleasant, or we could face the looking glass, press through, and wander.
Now, this entering class, I’m assuming can’t remember a time, at least since you were old
enough to own a smart phone, when all of those little slices in your day waiting in line
or on hold or whatever it would be couldn’t be filled with distraction. You may ever
have actually known how it really feels to be bored.
You know Dopamine, the motivator, the mother of invention, we really like Dopamine, even
rats like it when they can self‑administer it right to their brains. Well, that’s kind
of what happens when we get Facebook Likes or the ping of a text; it’s novelty, expectation.
It releases a little squirt of Dopamine. But I recently learned we only have a limited
amount of Dopamine. We waste it on stupid stuff. We don’t have it when we need it.
Like when we lie to ourselves, very important. And here’s where I turn the corner. The
world is too vast, too complex, frankly too incomprehensible to grasp. We are constructed,
we are wired to filter so we can function. We have to filter, or we freeze and die.
Put simply, we cannot know the world. But we have to live somewhere, so we construct
cozier, more comprehensible versions and move in and hunker down. It may not be the world
we want it to be, but it is the world we expect it to be.
And to preserve its integrity, to keep it whole, we allow ourselves to believe the illusion
of cause and effect where it doesn’t exist or deny it where it does, all in order to
preserve our hand‑made reality and to keep whole the web of beliefs that sustain it. Example, in 2012 Australian psychologist Stephan
Lewandowsky reported to a survey of thousands of readers’ climate blogs and found that there
is a strong correlation in belief in the free market and climate change denial, and denial
that HIV causes AIDS and denial that smoking causes cancer, denies science, strengthen
your hold on the total belief in the free market, preserve your web of beliefs.
Another example, in an FMRI study, Emory professor used brain scans to look inside voter’s heads
when confronted with evidence that their candidate or the opposing candidate was lying. Turns
out that when partisans were conflicted with lies of the opposing candidate, they didn’t
have a problem. The reasoning, part of their brain lit up and they were calm. But when
their preferred candidate was presented as a liar, all hell broke loose. The first
thing that lit up was negative emotion series, you could see it all over their brains, he
said. Then you saw the part of the brain call called the anterior cingulate come alive.
They were trying to figure a way out, and then once they had figured out a way to explain
it, to resolve it, to lie to themselves, you saw activation in parts of the brain that
are rich in neurotransmitters involved in rewarding, and the circuits activated just
like the way junkies get their fix, and they got this huge blast of Dopamine. And I asked
him, you mean the same thing you get when you take coke? And he said: Exactly right.
There was no reasoning at all going on. We’re wired to lie to ourself. This is what
you’re up against. I have one more example involving college
students back in 1967, more than 100 undergrads, not unlike yourselves. In a series of experiments
they were given headphones, and they were asked to listen to tape‑recorded messages
that disputed the link between smoking and cancer. The recordings were full of static,
but they could push a button that would relieve the static for a few seconds. The researchers
found over and over again that smokers pressed more than non‑smokers when the message argued
against the link between smoking and cancer. And they pressed it less often than nonsmokers
when the tape message affirmed the cancer link. You don’t think you do that? You
don’t think every single one of us does that I don’t know, a dozen times a day, a hundred
dozen times a day? We live in a continuous filter. We can fight it, if we want to,
and I think that ultimately whatever your goal for the future may be, this place where
you sit offers you your best shot at it. I mean, you could ask, why bother? But you
see, assuming you only go around once, your future depends on it, and I don’t mean how
much money you make, but how you evolve, how strong your humanity is, how you can strengthen
it. Also, our future depends on it because we have entered a world when all of our little
hand made worlds, millions of worlds seemed to have crashed, collided, and burned.
We listen to our fellow Americans and we think they speak in foreign tongues. We can’t
understand them. We don’t want to. Perhaps we need to be bored. When your phone
is off, you notice things. You see someone, you might imagine what they’re thinking.
When your phone is off, you weave fantasies, make plans, because you’re bored.
Now there are schools, back‑to‑nature places, hands‑on activity‑based learning,
very popular in Silicon Valley, people from Google, Apple all send their kids there.
They aren’t allowed computers until the seventh grade. Steve Jobs didn’t let his kids play with
the iPad. Your phone is like a baby; it whines, beeps, needs immediate attention right
now. It’s also like your mommy; it’s a pacifier, knows you better than anyone. It answers
all your questions, soothes you. You’re stronger than that. It’s a cool tool.
It’s an essential tool. It’s not your friend. All I’m saying is boredom can feel miserable at first, but it’s necessary because the one
thing your phone can’t supply is true self‑knowledge, and you have to be alone for that. And when
you are truly alone, you see more clearly where you are, where you could be, and who
you could be. Right now amidst all of this stimulation right
here this new climate of colleagues and companions and the novelty of learning things you never
knew, you can fill that quiet time, the slices of down time with fascinating speculation.
Your random musings, daydreams will be so rich. Your life could be so full, if you
give it a chance. And let’s face it, we’re counting on you to help us get out of our
silos, echo chambers. And I speak especially now to the most comfortable
among you and also the least comfortable among you, because you have built the strongest
private worlds, and you have the most to lose if they go down. But you also have the most
to bring in some ways to the table, while the rest of us struggle along. So, hey,
help us out, okay? And thanks a lot. (Applause).
>>DR. VIZZINI: Thank you, Brooke, for your remarks and thought‑provoking presentation
today. I also want to thank Subash and Vanessa. The three of you have talked about growth,
and convocation is a good time to think about our future year, about how we grow, know more
about ourselves and the world, and I do believe that each of us individually can make a difference.
So thank you, all three, for your remarks today. We are excited, Brooke, to be incorporating
your book into our classes and campus activities this year. Let’s give one more round of
applause to Brooke Gladstone. (Applause)
>>DR. VIZZINI: This morning we will be distributing lapel pins to everyone attending
the program. The pins commemorate this annual tradition that celebrates our community of
learning. We hope they remind you of the positive contributions you are expected to
make and are already making in Shocker Nation and beyond.
While distributing the pins, we will show a video that illustrates the engagement of
our students in applied learning activities which are important elements of our University’s
strategic plan. These photos were submitted by your faculty and staff. So at this time
I would like to direct your attention to the screen. (Video – Upbeat Music) (Applause)>>DR. VIZZINI: What a great representation we’ve had today of students, faculty, and
staff all working together to make Wichita State a great place to be! I’d like to
invite the A Cappella Choir and Concert Chorale to take their place and officially close the
program with the Alma Mater. After the Alma Mater, we will invite you to exit out the
main entrance where you will find refreshments and Brooke Gladstone, who will be happy to
sign your book and chat with you. Please stand and join the choir as they lead us in
singing the Alma Mater. (Singing of Alma Mater). (Applause)