Keep an Eye on the Horizon: Video Transcript

Becky Norton Dunlop (BA Political Science, Miami, 1973) [Vice President for External Relations for the Heritage Foundation]: I have had such a blessed career. I left Miami University being interested in working in the political arena. I thought that would be in Ohio, but eventually I found my way to Washington, DC through a number of circumstances that are difficult to explain, but were delightful. I ended up at one point working in the White House; I served for President Ronald Reagan for four years in the White House and then I served in his Justice Department for two years and finished his presidency at the Department of the Interior as Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks.

Before I joined the Reagan administration, I had been an entrepreneur, started my own company. When I finished the Reagan administration, I went back to my company and enjoyed that work very much in the private sector. In the meantime, I moved to Virginia, and when the governor was elected in 1993 in Virginia, he asked me to serve as his Secretary of Natural Resources. I did that, living in Richmond and traveling all around Virginia for four years as Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth. Following that, I took a little bit of time off and then joined the Heritage Foundation in 1998 and am delighted to say I still work there.

I would have to say that the liberal arts education that I received here at Miami probably more than anything else caused me to want to keep learning and to always be questioning. Learning and questioning, thinking for myself—what do I believe, and why do I believe it, in a variety of ways. So I love the liberal arts education that I received here at Miami. I think it's prepared me for just about anything I wanted to do in life, and there is no question about the fact that I strongly encourage young people today to consider Miami. I come back here and I'm impressed with the students that I've met and the faculty I've met. I think a liberal arts education at Miami University can prepare any young person well for the world they're going to be living in.

One of the wonderful opportunities that's afforded students at Miami University is the opportunity to get involved in some organization, some voluntary organization, doing something great for something you care about. I work for the Heritage Foundation, and we actually recruit interns from college campuses to come to Washington. We have about 70 interns three times a year, and we almost always have Miami students. It's a great opportunity for Miami students, and we know that they're good students because they're from Miami.

But the wonderful thing about being involved with student organizations here is you actually learn a little bit about the way the world works. There are internal battles that are engaged in, there are rules you have to follow, and whether it's sports—I played basketball my first year here, and I learned that everybody couldn't be on the first string. But you learn how to become a team member, you learn the rules of the road, and you begin to learn how those professional interactions work. These are lessons that can serve any student well, as they begin their adult life, whether they become an entrepreneur, or they get active in politics, or they're a community leader or a business leader. It's a great learning experience quite apart from academics.

You have four years at Miami to have fun, to learn, enjoy learning, meet people from other parts of the country, other parts of the world, other walks of life. These are the things that will prepare you for the world ahead. Don't focus on what your job will be after you graduate, because one never knows where the path of life will take you. Yes, you should be prepared for things that you think you might be interested in. Always keep an eye on the horizon for opportunities, but don't get too deeply invested in a particular pathway. Enjoy the four years, and when you leave Miami, just be confident that you know what you believe and why you believe it, and that you will do everything you're asked to do with excellence. The pathway that you're supposed to take will open up to you.

[September 2013]