'Lean Into' the Miami Brand: Video Transcript

Damon A. Williams, PhD (BA Black World Studies and Sociology majors, Miami, 1994; MEd, Miami, 1996) [Senior Vice President for Programs, Training, and Youth Development for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America]: I'm asked, oftentimes, the question, as an educator, "What should you major in?" and "Is that the ultimate definer of success?" The thing that I say and that I would offer to all students in the College is, number one, try to find your passion, try to understand your purpose, and try to get a sense of where you have potential to do great things. I think there's no better of a curriculum to do that in than in the liberal arts. And I think it's that exploratory journey and finding a major that's going to help you to begin that journey of asking questions and getting some expertise in terms of looking at the world through a particular type of lens, whether it be history, whether it be biology, whether it be chemistry, whether it be sociology, I think, becomes foundational because it begins to help you develop the habits of mind and a particular type of skillset, in terms of the scientific method, in terms of understanding how to evaluate information, how to articulate your perspective in written and oral forms, how to present ideas, and it's those 21st century skills, whether we are talking about teamwork or talking about creativity and problem solving, that really become the difference makers in terms of long-term success.

Some of the most worthwhile experiences I think that our students can have are when they are able to combine the academic interest with the student involvement and engagement, being involved in the political science club or being involved in the student engineering club, if you were in engineering, but being involved in different types of student organizations that amplify the academic possibility. And when you take that and combine it with the relationships, you combine it with the degree and that credential, and you combine it with getting real-world internship experiences, that becomes the game-changing way you can leverage the Miami University brand, and you can leverage the liberal arts background and those habits of mind and 21st century skills, that ultimately can be the difference maker in your immediate and in your long-term career success trajectory.

The thing that I would share for all the students in the College is the critical importance of leaning in to each and every aspect of what it means to be a Miami student. Leaning in to your relationships with faculty, leaning in to the opportunity to engage in critical projects and experiences of undergraduate research, to work in laboratories, leaning into those things. Leaning into the possibilities of visiting your career development office early, so that office can help you to obtain internships and can help you think about the journey of translating what your experience in the college to real-world application. Leaning into the brand, embracing what it means to be a Miamian, embracing what it means to move forward in the world and carrying that tradition with you each and every place that you go. No matter where I go, the Miami University brand means something, no matter where I go, I find friends who are associated with that brand. I have found that it has prepared me incredibly well to be successful in life, to be successful in my relationships, and ultimately to be the type of citizen and difference maker that I want to be in the world.

[February 2014]