As I sat in a conference room listening to the Attorney General of Massachusetts, as well as the CEO of Emily’s List, and the communications director of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, I was struck by how normal it felt. Here in front of me, three incredibly accomplished women were just having a conversation with each other and with the students. It didn’t feel as though there was a divide between the speakers and the rest of the room. It didn’t feel like they were untouchable celebrities who were above us in any way. As they spoke about their experiences, they fidgeted with water bottles, sat on desks, and leaned on the wall. They laughed, spoke their minds, and were very friendly. They were so normal, I really felt that they could have been one of my peers, and I think that is one of the most important qualities that guests can bring to a campus.
Colleges gather interesting, successful people to come to their campus as a speaker or teacher. Prior to their attendance, there is often a lot of publicity, as well as a general feeling of awe and anticipation felt by the school’s community. There is great value in learning from successful, experienced professionals. They can give advice far more applicable to life than any regular class will give you. The insights they share surrounding all different fields, and the connections they have can help students plan for the future. Also, it can be really cool to say that you’ve seen or met a famous person.
However, I think that one of the greatest lessons you can learn from these guests is that they are all human, just like us. You can be like them one day. Getting to meet people you look up to helps to break down the perfect and idealistic image of them that may be seen in the media. By seeing them in a more personal setting, they become more real and more normal. Hopefully you will realize that you can, one day, stand where they do.
While you have the opportunity to attend events with inspiring leaders, take advantage of them. Mostly likely, you will never have the opportunity to learn from such a diverse group of people ever again. Perhaps you’ll even find something you’re passionate about, and you can learn how to achieve your dreams.
Hi, my name is Kathryn Kuhar and I am a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard College studying Government. A fun fact about me is that I’ve lived in Hawaii, California, Belgium, and Turkey.