With graduation on the horizon, Park Scholar seniors reflect on their time at IC
Friday, February 28, 2014
By John Vogan '14
I’ll be honest (and Ithaca College’s latest “Ready” campaign would not be happy with me): I am not ready to write this blog post. I’ve had it in the back of my mind a while now, but even as I type I can’t believe the time has already come. The experiences I’ve been granted through this program and my time at IC have been invaluable and it’s impossible to do them justice with a brief reflection. Still, I’ll try.
During these last four years, my mind has been opened to more ideas, perspectives and innovations than I ever thought possible for a college experience. It has transcended my preconceived notions of our societal and global realities, and equipped me with the knowledge and skills to change those realities for the better. As a journalist, from my fall semester freshman year as an eager, but still somewhat naïve assistant producer on Newswatch 16 to a reporter and anchor now, I feel immensely more confident in my ability to “do the news.”
More importantly, perhaps, is my sharpened sense of how my professional field operates, both for better and worse. Whether it was developing my own ethical code for journalistic endeavors or analyzing how illicit trades and other key issues are covered by the gamut of today’s news media, I now have what it takes to not only help inform the public, but change the way and degree to which they are being informed.
The Park Scholar Program is full of wonderful dichotomies, one of which being the presence of both comfort and provocative challenge. I thought leaving home in Seattle, Washington to study in New York was a big step. But the friends – even family – I’ve made here have given me every ounce of support and guidance to ensure that I will be successful. Those same people have also pushed me to think in ways I initially may have been resistant to, but in retrospect yielded the greatest benefit of all to my outlook, and my character.
Little did I know four years ago the adventure I was about to embark on would also take me to London, across Western Europe, and to New Zealand and the South Pacific. This program has allowed me to experience cultures and people I may otherwise have never been exposed to. I now consider myself a global citizen, and although my thirst for exploration has been partially quenched through these opportunities, my curiosity is also stronger than ever. I will strive to continue traveling and seek out the gems of stories this world has to tell.
My time at IC has pushed me to not simply accept things as they are or appear to be. I now question everything: what other people do, what I do, why things stand as they stand. And this is good. By asking questions, we keep others and ourselves accountable for our actions while also creating potential for alternative solutions. I’ve learned that not all questions have answers, or at least not one straightforward answer. Usually this kind of asking, “Why? Why? Why?” is attributed to young children. But I’ve realized the very nature of this inquisitiveness – this pressing curiosity – remains invaluable throughout all stages of life, and I have my time at IC to thank for that.
It’s rare to find a program that can align so closely with who you are and the values you hold, but also seek to completely transform you. The Park Scholar Program is one of those rare finds. I came in knowing that I wanted to make a difference in the world and live up to my fullest potential, but the way in which I go about doing that has evolved in tremendously more critical, effective and nuanced ways. I’ve learned that complex, multi-faceted approaches are often necessary to understand a given issue; that people can surprise you; and that you can surprise yourself. I was certainly surprised when I found out I would join this incredible community, and I have not been disappointed. Time will tell what surprises lay in store after graduation. I’m not ready to leave – I’m not sure how anyone ever could be with a group of people this profound and remarkable. But I am ready for whatever comes next.
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