Bring Honor to Us All

There are many things that come to my mind when I think of honor. One thing that comes to my mind is one of my favorite Disney movies: “Mulan.” The first musical number is titled “Bring Honor to Us All,” in which Mulan, as well as the other young women of her community, must prepare to meet with the matchmaker, who matches them with a young man to marry.

This is an essential part of their culture, because a woman’s status comes from her husband. The verses represent the promise that Mulan’s future life will have if her meeting with the matchmaker goes well, proving she is an acceptable woman in their society and bringing honor to her family.

Mulan unfortunately did not have a successful meeting with the matchmaker, but forged her own path by pretending to be a soldier and fighting against the attacking Huns. Her family was terrified after learning of her decision, but her actions brought honor not only to her family but to her country as well.

Although in our society we don’t have to worry about the pressures of arranged marriages, honor still holds emphasis in our culture. The dictionary defines honor as respect that is given to someone who is admired; good reputation: good quality or character as judged by other people. It is hard to talk about honor without talking about integrity and self-respect.

I was just accepted into Student Honor Council and I cannot wait to have a voice in shaping the way my fellow students view honor. We sign the honor code at the top of our tests, but do we really think about what it means? About exactly what we are writing? Probably not.

CNU fosters narrative around these topics through organizations like the Center for Honor Enrichment and Community Standards, Hall Council and Student Honor Council, just to name a few. Opportunities like this allow students to actively be a part of the CNU community by upholding the values in our honor code, which reads as follows:

“On my honor, I will maintain the highest standards of honesty, integrity, and personal responsibility. This means I will not lie, cheat, or steal and as a member of this academic community, I am committed to creating an environment of respect and mutual trust.”

To me, honor isn’t about always making the right decision or being a cookie-cutter version of a “perfect student,” “perfect friend,” etc. To me, honor is about striving for the highest level of success through your beliefs, personal values and morals. Not everyone may agree with your choices, but being able to stand behind what you believe in is honorable. Making choices that benefit you and your community is honorable. Standing apart from the crowd is honorable.

Don’t be afraid to live an honorable life. It may not always be the popular decision, but it is a rewarding decision. Just ask Mulan.

Raising Your Hand

It’s that thing we’ve been taught to do since we first started our educational journeys. However, we have all sat in classes where no one seemed able or willing to raise their hands. While it’s easy to keep our hands down and stare at the clock until we’re able to escape from class, think how much faster class would go by if we actually participated.

I know how hard it can be to raise your hand. I mean, it requires a lot of effort. I too am guilty of averting my gaze from professors when they ask a question. Fear can overcome you when you think they might call on you, and you’re still trying to wrap your head around what the class was even talking about in the first place. You sit there hoping someone would raise his or her hand and distract the professor’s attention away from you. Why is it never you who raises a hand?

I was tasked to write about leadership this week, and I know what you’re thinking, “What does raising your hand have to do with leadership?” Well, I’m going to tell you. While it’s easy to think about leadership in broad and grand ways, I thought it might be refreshing to see the ways in which we can possess the qualities of being a leader every day. I think you know where I’m going with this … that’s right, raising your hand.

While this common occurrence might not be deemed worthy of being applied to leadership, if we look closely at the simple act of raising our hands, we might change our view. When we raise our hand, we are telling the professor that we have something to offer to the conversation. By raising our hands, we show that we are willing to put ourselves out there, even if we might be wrong. Raising our hands allows us to lead the class in a discussion.

There are so many ways in which raising our hands can apply to leadership. So, the next time you are sitting in class and counting down the time until you leave, why don’t you try raising your hand and asking a question? You might just learn something useful, and isn’t that what being a Captain is all about?

Out of the Old Comfort Zone

As a college junior, I’ve found it’s never too late to reinvent yourself.

There are a few interests I’ve been pursuing on campus since the first week I arrived, but there are also some involvements that have taken time to cultivate. Laura Kate, you might ask, what does this even mean?

I’m glad you (hypothetically) asked!

I knew the summer before attending CNU I wanted to study English, work towards becoming an elementary school teacher and find a faith-based organization in which to serve. But, other than that, I had no idea what I was going to do with my time here. Freshman year, I took English courses and Master of Arts in Teaching  Program support courses and discovered I really did have a passion for those subjects. And, I joined Cru’s ministry, eventually becoming a small-group leader.

But, as sophomore year rolled around, I knew I wanted to involve myself just a little more on this gorgeous campus. I loved communicating through writing and wanted an outlet in which to express that. So, I took a step outside my comfort zone and applied for an on-campus blogging job (hey, that’s this job!). At the time, I had no idea how this job would stretch me and how I’d feel so much more connected to campus happenings.

In the later spring of sophomore year, a couple of friends and I decided to make a trivia team for the Office of Student Activities‘ Thursday Night Trivia. Once again, it was kind of a shout-into-the-void, let’s-see-where-this-goes thing, but it’s been one of the most fun activities to get involved with! Who knew that I would fall in love with game show-like trivia and that I’d soon be able to call teammates, friends.

So, this is all just a little push to encourage you to step out of your normal routine and try something new. If you know you’re good at a certain something, look for a job or a team where you can hone that capability. If you have the slightest interest in an area of study or cause, consider taking a class or joining an organization to see if that topic is something you’d want to devote more time to.

It’s OK to come to college with a set list of things you want and don’t want to get involved with. But, some of my best experiences at CNU thus far have come from quick decisions to step out of my comfort zone. Use your time here wisely and express yourself fully!

May the Registration Odds be in Your Favor…

Ah, registration.
One of the most dreaded times of the year.

The day where you wake up before the sun, sit up in bed and get ready to type in those class numbers when the Web page prompts you to do so.

The morning where your heart beats so fast as you watch the available class times drop, and the happiness you feel when it shows you’ve successfully enrolled in that PERFECT class you wanted.

The time when you get to actually evaluate what you want to study, and also get the freedom to decide when and with whom you’ll be taught.

Each semester, registration stresses me out a little less.

Maybe that’s just because I’m finally getting into my future a little more.

The only registration downfall I’ve hit is a long night class until 10:30 p.m. once a week. It was a great class but a horrible time.

I have (luckily) avoided taking any 8 a.m. classes, and I hope to continue that streak until graduation!

Anyways, when you start to move up the class ranks, it gets a little more stressful in other ways.

Instead of simply thinking about what classes will satisfy your liberal learning requirements, I now have to start thinking about what classes will actually benefit me in the long run.

I’ve never actually sat down and evaluated a course of action for the rest of my time here, but I also never knew how much I needed to do that. Looking at the types of classes I had never considered, such as English classes and business classes and seeing how they would benefit me in the future actually made me really excited.

I decided to take on a second minor in civic engagement, since one day I hope to work in the nonprofit field, hopefully internationally (fingers crossed). Looking at the course catalog and seeing all of the different classes offered opened my eyes to the various majors, minors and opportunities here that I had not been aware of before.

Happy registration season, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

(and if they’re not, there’s always overrides!)

Friendships in Unexpected Places

Hitting that acceptance button and sending in that first deposit, I knew I had officially signed myself to Christopher Newport University. Ever since I was little I had gone to the same schools with the same people, so everyone ventured together from elementary school to middle and high school. During my senior year, the teachers posted a bulletin board that had little hot air balloons with various colleges. Only 10 students from my entire high school were going to CNU. I knew I was going on my own adventure, and even though I was floating away from everything I’d ever known, I was ready for the journey.

When you first enter campus, there is no blueprint for what’s going to happen or who you’re going to meet. Going to a different university than all my friends was the best thing I could have done. I had to get as involved as possible to meet people, and through my experiences I made some of my most cherished friendships. But, not all friendships are the ones we most expect. I am very fortunate to have so many wonderful friends on my rowing team, in my sorority and from my residence hall. However, some of my closest friends and role models actually work for the University. One of the first people to impact my CNU experience was the special assistant to the president. Even though she is constantly busy, she always makes time for me. We met my freshman year when I was forming the rowing club. She has been my number one supporter from the beginning and not a day goes by at this university that I don’t feel her love or support. Being able to have a role model and a close friend at this university has meant the world to me. I know that if I had gone anywhere else I would not have this wonderful relationship.

I have also been fortunate enough to get to know a CNU alum, who was also in my sorority but graduated years before me. She works in the Center for Career Planning, and throughout my journey of applying for jobs, she has been my number one supporter. We met just this year, but her constant support has brought our relationship so close. I feel comfortable dropping by her office anytime and sitting with her to talk. One of the ways CNU has changed me into a better person is through my job. I have learned so much from working in the Office of Communications and Public Relations, but most importantly, I have loved working with the people in the office. I never would have thought I could come to work and have genuine conversations with my bosses and feel as though I have gained true friendships and role models. When I first hit that acceptance button four years ago, I would never have believed I would be such close friends with the president’s assistant and CNU faculty. Being able to have these close friendships has made me into a better person. I am able to understand the University in a whole different way because of the opportunities I have had and the relationships I’ve made. Being a Captain has allowed me to grow into the person I always wanted to be. I may not have known anyone before I came to CNU but now, as a senior, I’ll graduate with lifelong bonds and mentors. I will forever be a proud Captain.

“What’s Your Major?”

That dreaded question. I always find it amusing, the reactions I get from telling people I’m a theater major. The range of responses from “Well, what do you want to do with that?” to looks of sympathy or little chuckles like I’ve just told some funny joke. I often think about how grateful I am to have realized what I wanted to do with my life, and terrified because wanting to be an actor isn’t the most practical career. However, I wouldn’t change my major for anything. How many other people can say that?

When you are a part of TheaterCNU, you often have the chance to attend workshops. Sometimes, those workshops are led by TheaterCNU alumni who can teach on a wide range of subjects from fighting on film to auditioning to learning what you can do with your degree. So, obviously, I went to that last one in hopes of getting sage advice that would just make everything click. I was hoping to learn from the alumni, and they didn’t disappoint.

The alumni gave us so much useful advice. They made me think about how the things I’m learning here can be translated into so many different other things. They reassured us that even if we don’t choose to continue on with theater we have gained many valuable skills that can be used in a variety of ways. Theater majors usually have excellent communication and public-speaking skills, and are also great at making themselves look as good as possible to potential employers.

Let’s face it: we are pretty awesome. But, this post was not meant to be “100 Reasons Why You Should Be A Theater Major.” The point of my first post was to let you know that it’s OK to have doubts. It’s fine if you need to be undecided until you find the right major that suits you. It’s also fine if you realize your senior year that the major you are in is not what you want to do with your life. The reason CNU is so amazing is that by the time you’re almost done here, you feel like you are ready to take on the world no matter what comes your way.