“As educators, we have accepted an enormous responsibility: arming young people with the tools required to change the world,” said ACM President Sonya Malunda. “As students, you arrived here with the talents, ideas, and energy necessary for that journey.”
Delivering the address at Luther College’s Spring Convocation, Malunda encouraged students to take the opportunity in college to “reflect, speak, listen, and learn,” to step out of the “cozy and comfortable nest,” and to immerse themselves in new and challenging experiences.
The event, held February 8 on the Luther campus in Decorah, Iowa, was the college’s traditional gathering to celebrate the beginning of a new semester. Along with the address, the program included a formal procession of faculty and convocation speakers and a variety of participatory readings and music.
Following an introduction by Luther President Paula J. Carlson, Malunda drew on her background as a student at a liberal arts college and her extensive work in community engagement and higher education for her topic, “Will Anything Grow in Your Comfort Zone?”
“Luther and other liberal arts colleges challenge you to consider topics—including your opinions and beliefs — from multiple perspectives,” she noted. “Taking that time to reflect, taking that time to listen to a broader perspective, and learning from more evidence can actually require a change of mind. Or even, in some cases, a change of heart.”
“Much of my career has been dedicated to civic and community engagement, and I believe deeply it is more necessary now than ever before,” she said. “Whether you are making a contribution in a developing country or right here in Decorah, you can create a vibrant and mutual exchange of ideas.”
“You can learn a great deal about yourself and about others. I believe it is not enough to hone your ability to speak and listen to one another on campus. It is when you take these skills beyond the campus that you ultimately can make all the difference.”
In concluding her address, Malunda said, “I hope you will leave here today thinking about how you will venture out of your comfort zone, both on campus and beyond. And my wish for you is to throw yourself out of the nest and into the world that so sorely needs you.”