Zeta Sigma Chi guest stresses need to encounter new ideas

BY WHITNEY MEREDITH
Daily Staff Reporter
Published November 12, 2002

Participating in challenging academic and social opportunities in order to establish a sense of self and discover one's passions is critical to the college experience, former Office of Student Life Assistant Director Connie Tingson told a mostly female audience last night at a talk sponsored by the Zeta Sigma Chi Multicultural Sorority and the Community Service Commission in the Michigan Union.

Tingson, a Filipina-American from Detroit, is currently pursuing her doctorate in educational administration at Michigan State University and is coordinator of a campus-wide mentoring program there. Her talk, which focused on academic and leadership issues affecting women of color, was part of a week-long program emphasizing cultural awareness.

"It's important to realize how much your undergraduate experience will positively or negatively shape things in your life," Tingson said. There is great value in recognizing your ability to take advantage of your time in college, she added.

While many students surround themselves with people of similar backgrounds that have similar ideas and values, Tingson said it is important to encounter new ideas and values.

"People's ability to cross over and be creative is an important part of success," she said, adding that by doing this, students gain a greater sense of how different interests interrelate, which will be beneficial in the future.

"Ask yourself what kind of things, folks and ideas you are going to encounter in a career," she said, adding that from there, students should shape their college experiences in reference to what they hope to encounter while venturing out of their comfort zone into possible new interests.

For University alum Tracey Drayton, Tingson's message was one she could easily identify with. "As an undergrad I crossed borders. People here seem to stay in ethnic groups, but I didn't stay with my ethnic background and it shaped my experience," Drayton said.

During this time of growth, Tingson said it is important for students to recognize that as undergraduates, they are going to change their concepts of who they want to become and that this is acceptable. It is important to identify who is and is not supportive as students' conceptions change she added.

To help with the process, taking the role of a mentor as well as having one can be beneficial in this process. "It's a cyclical model. You need a support group," Tingson said, adding that once students find their passions, they should concentrate on what will make them happy.

"Suggestions about career choices and in thinking positively when dealing with barriers spoke to me because most advisors simply offer professional fields, not about crossing disciplines and doing something creative," LSA sophomore Nagmeh Shariatmadar said in reference to her advice.

"She made me feel that it's OK that I don't know my major and what I want to do. Eventually I will find a career that makes me happy," LSA junior Jessica Boid said.