Big Wigs and Big Opportunities

As you may or may not know, host of NPR’s All Things Considered Michele Norris is coming to the University of Texas a week from today–Thursday, November 20th. Her talk promises to center around the media and Election 2008–a favorite topic among journalists, and well, just about everyone this past election cycle. Whether it’s complaints about “gotcha journalism” or the media being “in the tank for Obama” as SNL so eloquently put it (perhaps before anyone else), American voters focus on the news and newsmakers.

Michele Norris, host of NPRs All Things Considered is speaking at UT on Nov. 20 at the AT&T Center at 7 p.m.

Michele Norris, host of NPR's "All Things Considered" is speaking at UT on Nov. 20 at the AT&T Center at 7 p.m.

So how does this relate to Austin and my subsequent love/hate of it? Great question. My guess would be that somewhere around 70-80% of the student population will go about their business next week having no idea that one of the nation’s top journalists is speaking at their university. I’m not pointing this out to say that it’s a big deal. I’m pointing it out to say that this happens all the time.

I’m sure there are key players in the fields of engineering and biology who speak at UT quite regularly, and I am completely unaware of their presence. For instance, did you know Sen. Hutchison, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Houston Mayor Bill White were all at the AT&T Center last Thursday? Sometimes phenomenal minds come to Austin and I knowingly decide not to go. But my point is that we’re so fortunate to attend a university that attracts great thinkers and doers from our society (and the global society, as well).

Last spring, I had the opportunity to attend a breakfast social hosted by the College of Communication. One of the guests was Dan Rather. (By the way, I should also point out that Caroline was there, too.) As I grabbed my cup of coffee, and slid down the table to the cream and sugar, who should be filling up his cup but Dan the Man himself? You can read my whole story of that morning (with natural embellishment and flair, of course) here, if you like.

If you’re looking for a list of things you should do before you graduate, well, I happen to know a great site for that (or maybe it’s before you die–I forget?). But if you want some unsolicited advice from me, go hear a great speaker at UT while you’re here. You do realize, of course, that these people don’t go door-to-door and give speeches, right? Once you’re gone, so are your chances of meeting the movers and shakers of this world.

Want to help decide who comes to speak at UT? Go here to get involved. Past speakers have included former President Bill Clinton, journalist Bob Woodward, former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, director Spike Lee and “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane.

Okay, okay. So we don’t all have tons of time to go see the people who come here. But I’ll leave you with a quote from Samuel Clemens (c’mon, you know who that is) that should put it in perspective for you:

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education

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1 Response to “Big Wigs and Big Opportunities”


  1. 1 Caitlin W November 14, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I totally agree – I love that such distinguished speakers come to our university. I didn’t get to see her, but Maya Angelou was here this semester. Also, for Radio/TV/Film majors, the master class brings in some amazing filmmakers. Don Hertzfeld, who did the “Rejected” cartoons, as well as the movie “Everything Will Be Ok” (part of a trilogy,) was here a while back and was really, really interesting. And anyone can go to the master class when there is a speaker presenting, as long as there is seating available!


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