Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inspiration from the north

I've been privileged to teach some extraordinary students.  It hadn't occurred to me until today, though, how many of them have been here at the same time.

2006 alumna Michelle Underwood returned to campus today by invitation of her undergraduate college (she was an art major) to speak to current students.  Last week she contacted me and asked if she could speak to some Honors students as well, and this afternoon a handful of them listened with interest as she described her experience with 800 25-and-unders from around the globe at the One Young World International Summit in London.

Michelle showed those students more than an opportunity to take a cool trip and get inspired by folks like them who want to change the world.  She was a living example of how quickly they could do great things and transform their surroundings.  Michelle is an ad director for a major worldwide advertising agency.  Ten months ago, she co-founded Chicago's Mortar Theatre Company, a non-profit troupe that has been performing socially-conscious world-premiere works. And perhaps most impressively to those of us in the room this afternoon, she designed while an undergraduate the logo for our campus art gallery, and was amused to discover upon her return that it is still plastered all over the gallery's banners and publicity.

And as we reminisced about the group of students she used to hang with during her days at my university, I realized how remarkable a collection they turned out to be.  We've gone so far as to invite another one back for a presentation next month.  I hadn't made the connection that the two were not only from the same graduating class, but were also close friends.

I think I can perceive another group like this that will be graduating next year.  I look forward to following their accomplishments for the next six years, then inviting them back to inspire the students of 2016.

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