The Common Experience theme for this year is all about the 1st amendment and the freedoms that come with being able to say and do what you want in the United States. Here at Texas State we value everyone’s opinion and our free speech area, (located at the Stallions statue in the Quad), embodies that every day. With such a strong theme as free speech who better than a journalist to come in and speak on the subject? Common Experience speaker and CNN Correspondent Soledad O’Brien spoke on Wednesday to the students of Texas State about everything from her career in the ever expanding world of journalism to her own college life.
Soledad started her education off as a Pre-Med major and thought she knew from the very start that she wanted to become a doctor. “I got into Television News because I didn’t want to go to medical school. I thought I was going be a doctor and then I realized I didn’t have a passion for it,” said Soledad. But that, Soledad says, is what college is all about it. She said college was about creating and finding yourself by getting out there and doing things that you’re not necessarily good at. Doing other things that are outside of your comfort zone, she says, is especially helpful when networking.
“I think college is supposed to be about creating a whole person so I think people do themselves a disservice when they just take classes and only take classes in the things that they’re good at,” said Soledad. “I think it’s a waste of 4 years if you don’t try to create new opportunities. It’s all part of the college experience.”
Though she dropped out of Harvard to take a job in a newsroom, Soledad still had quite the college experience before she worked her way up in the industry and became the media icon she is today. In college she was on a club track team and was also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She also took her own advice and by attending a religion class that she didn’t need to take and it led to her meeting her future husband. She and her family are so serious about a college education that she and her husband have a scholarship fund in place for college students and they currently have 8recipients in school with one who just graduated this past year.
But being successful in college and eventually in a career, Soledad says, isn’t just about networking and getting out there, though it’s important. It’s also about those who inspire you and listening to yourself when it comes to being ahead of the game. Just being strong can make the difference.
“It’s even less about who you know it’s much more about deciding that for today you’re not going to give up,” said Soledad. “My mom is like a tough nut mom, and her philosophy was ‘Stop listening to people and figure it out for yourself because most of this stuff is very do-able.'”
Even great figures like Soledad started just like every student at Texas State, unsure and making it through by working hard. So sit by someone you don’t know, be sure of yourself, get out there and be that person who inspires everyone else if you must. The key is to look at college and life as an experience and, as Soledad said, “not a check-off box of doing all the right things.”