Friday, September 17, 2010
I've been thinking a lot about heroes lately. It all started when a colleague and alumnus gave me a greeting card - a real, paper greeting card - near the close of the last academic year. "We need heroes because they draw us on to become better versions of ourselves" was the quote on the front of the card.
Inside, the person had written "you have inspired me to be a better person and professional, and that is a priceless gift...this card is for you because you're my hero and have inspired me to try to be a hero for someone else." I was humbled and honored, and a little surprised, mostly because I always thought of the card-giver as someone who had already been a hero for others.
Way back on his very first day as an IC student, he bounded into my office full of enthusiasm, exclaiming "Hi, I would like to grow into a leadership position here at Ithaca College!" He talked about his interests, his goals, how he had chosen to attend Ithaca College despite being from a city more than 1600 miles away, and many other things. Through the years, he took on many leadership positions, both formal and informal. He led student groups, served as an RA, excelled academically, volunteered his time to talk with prospective students considering attending IC, graduated, and eventually landed a position working at the college.
And on one of his very last days on campus, he paid me a visit to give me this card. Now he's off on the next page of his journey, and has moved more than 2400 miles from our campus to be a hero in other peoples' lives. How could someone who had had such a positive impact not know he was already a hero?
This year, the annual Out of the Closet and Onto the Screen Film series also takes on the theme of "History and Heroes of the LGBT Movement." It is surprisingly difficulty to learn about LGBT heroes and history, because the LGBT community is one of the few communities that does not always have opportunities to learn its history at home, in the public schools, or in other ways.
And Henry David Thoreau, author of the first year reading initiative book this year, said of heroes "The hero is commonly the simplest and obscurest of men."
You are the hero of your life. Every day is a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of others - friends, mentors, role models - each is a hero, though sometimes the most active and important don't even realize they are heroes to others.
To become inspired to embrace your inner hero:
- Check out the more than 150 student organizations in which you can become involved
- Learn about service opportunities to be a hero to others in the local community or beyond
- Attend a screening of the Out of the Closet and onto the screen film series, to learn more about our LGBT and allied heroes - the next one is on September 29 at 7 pm in Textor 103
- Let your imagination run wild by considering a few fictional heroes in episodes of the Heroes TV show
- Holding out for a hero? Search the song on YouTube sung first by Bonnie Tyler, and its many covers from Shrek 2 to Frou Frou, Joss Stone to Emery
We may have heroes in our lives every day, we certainly have heroes in our history. Our challenge is to connect with our everyday heroes, acknowledge their importance in our lives, and take the lessons of our heroes to heart...and to action.