April 20, 2001

STAFF EDITORIAL: Que será, será: don?t try to change a good thing, folks

By Becca Cutri-Kohart
Campus Life Editor
April 20, 2001

Becca Kutri-Cohart

So, this is it. Goodbye.

I was half tempted to leave this space empty besides those closing words. During the last year and half of my participation in the ?Nique, I have contemplated all the things I wanted to say in my closing remarks, in this last, ?Swan Song? editorial before graduation. I have been ?privileged? to at least be peripherally aware of campus politics, events and personalities during my stay at Tech. Needless to say that I have my complaints and advice to give them.

Suddenly, though, I don?t care. It all seems very petty to me right now. All those things that frustrated me, those secret societies, the elitist groups, the lack of recognition for the people I felt really deserved it, I just don?t care about it any more. I mean, I care, I?d like to see Tech become a better place. In the final hours before my departure, I guess kind of like a stay of execution, I?ve realized that all those above mentioned things don?t make Tech what it is.

So, now at a loss for topics for this editorial, I contemplated several new titles that would provide some good advice for future ugly ducklings leaving the nest to help them experience the great college adventure:

?Aerospace engineering rocks.?

This was the single most important part of my college experience. This is why I am here. This is what I want to do. This is what I want to be. This is what I love. If you don?t feel this way about your major, do some soul-searching now, before it is too late.

?Even if you swore off English in High School, sometimes its nice to sit around in a circle and talk about how a book makes you feel.?

I was this person. I came in with my AP credit, I was never going to take another English class again. I decided on the spur of the moment to take one more, it changed my life. Its such an incredible break from intensive problem solving engineering courses, and it reminds you that reading is actually fun.

?Join real clubs. Ones that you are passionate about. Learn to fly, learn to sail, learn to SCUBA dive.?

So many people get caught up in the clubs they ?should? join, like the ones their friends are in, the ones that are ?powerful,? the ones that give them solid resume lines. Expand your horizons; there is an incredible wealth of resources here to teach you to do new things. You?ll meet new friends along the way. You just need the courage to try new things. The people in these clubs have true passion and spirit about what they do, and you won?t find that in a club you join for resume padding or political gain.

?Leadership isn?t built through seminars and workshops, its built through experience and the trust of your peers.?

We have many conferences here and elsewhere. I helped plan one. I have been a leader and a follower in my life, I enjoy being in charge more, but not everyone does. The one thing I have learned is that you can?t teach leadership, you can?t teach networking. You just need to go out and do it. If you want to be a leader, take charge. You?ll make mistakes along the way, but eventually you?ll get it right. The best leaders are the ones that are just another member of the team, the ones who are selected by consensus, rather than competition. Be that kind of leader, be the kind of leader who?s peers just assume you will be in charge. You?ll never get that kind of respect by attending seminars on it, you get that kind of respect by proving your abilities and by hard work.

?Speak your mind, even if everyone thinks it makes you an arrogant bitch.?

I figure lots of people say this about me. I don?t care, you shouldn?t either. Sometimes it?s more important to stick to your ideals and speak your mind, rather than cower in the corner. In the end, people will respect you more for being true to yourself. But more than that, its not what other people think, its what you think of yourself. If you don?t say what?s on your mind, you will think less of yourself and your thoughts. Don?t lose your confidence.

?Being at school with this ratio turns the most conservative woman into a feminist.?

Tech is living proof that feminism is not an outdated concept. The ratio at Tech proves that women still have a long way to go before they are an equal force in science and technology. Encourage your daughters, encourage your peers, encourage the other women in your life to overcome the odds put in place by the ratio to succeed in these fields.

?Why, yes, I?m a President?s scholar, and proud of it. Secrecy is just another way of shirking your accountability for your actions.?

When I entered as a freshmen PS, I was encouraged to keep my status a secret. I was told my status would stir up resentment from my classmates. Other PS?s even joked about having a secret handshake so we could identify each other. What nonsense! Be proud of your accomplishments, don?t hide them.

So, maybe I will mention ANAK here, even if it is blasphemous to talk about them in a public forum. Look, I said it, ANAK ANAK ANAK. This secret honor [sic] society claims an enormous influence on campus politics. Since I?m not a member, I can?t pretend to know all there is to it, but the members claim (rather publicly on their web site), that they stay secret so that they can work without seeking praise for their accomplishments. And they have some very good reasons for their original secret status. The problem is, now, they claim to represent the best interests of the students. If we, the students, don?t know what ANAK members are up to IN OUR NAME, then they can?t be held accountable for their mistakes, their bad ideas, and their bad decisions. Through public attention you get both praise and blame, and its ego on ANAK?s part to think their efforts would only get praise.

?There?s more to Atlanta than Buckhead.?

So many of us are confined to MARTA our freshman year, which takes a nice beeline route to Buckhead, we forget that when we finally get cars we can do other things too. There are some great little restaurants in the Highlands and scattered around midtown. There are great, inexpensive shows, like at Whole World Theatre and Shakespeare?s Tavern. Go, before it?s too late and you move to less cultured places, like Houston.

?Road trips rock. Don?t be afraid to go alone.?

During breaks, go somewhere you?ve never been. I drove to an air show in Wisconsin, across the northern part of Great Lakes, to Washington, D.C. and more during my stay here. Don?t be afraid to go alone and see the world. You?ll never have this kind of vacation time again.

?Take French for eight years and then move to a German-speaking country.?

Enough said. I?m moving to Switzerland for six-months, a German-speaking canton. C?est la vie.

?Tech is awesome. If it needs to change, it will be a grass roots campaign.?

Well, maybe it is just the encroaching senioritis, but I don?t think anything about Tech?s culture needs to change. And even if it did, change doesn?t happen from the top down. ODK can?t start a new program to suddenly turn followers into leaders. Technique can?t incite protests. ANAK can?t convince the administration that the bookstore space should be used for a specific purpose. That doesn?t stop them from trying, mind you, they try really hard. This effort consumes the times and hearts of some of the most amazing people I have ever met. In the end, the lesson I have learned is that it is all for naught.

If you want true change, it comes from within. It comes from the struggling student who may be a member (just a member) of one or two clubs, who goes to his classes, who co-ops, who has some good friends, and who doesn?t even bother to dabble in Tech politics.

So, that?s my advice. I dispense it for free, anytime anywhere. Just e-mail me, or come visit me in Switzerland, or afterwards in Houston, with NASA Johnson Space Center. Please, I only have one request, don?t call me to say ?Houston, we have a problem.?

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