Let Learning Surprise You

When ever I was a kid I would always hear classmates say, “When am I ever going to use this?” when it came to a subject they didn’t care about.  It could be any subject topic and simply no one ever had faith that what we were learning would be useful to us as adults.

That attitude is drastically different when a person reaches graduate school and specifically pinpoints an area of study they want to pursue.  For me, it was not-for-profit management. And this past week I had one of those moments where I really understood what got me to the point where I am at now.

Matt Enstice,  President and CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus came and spoke to my class about the campus, how it has evolved and where it will continue to go.  I never realized but Matt had a background in the entertainment industry and eventually came back to Buffalo on an unexpected path to help kickstart the developing medical campus.  I immediately found a connection with Matt as I have a passion for screenwriting as well as the world of nonprofits.

But it was more than just our similarity with where he has taken his life and where I would like to take mine.  He spoke so eloquently about how nonprofits in today’s world need to combine the idea of running themselves as a for-profit business, while never losing sight of their mission to better the community.  A thought which echoed a TED Talk by Dan Pallotta, where he points out how nonprofits could do so much more for society if they are not held to a mediocre standard of “doing more with less.” The talk was so inspiring and I think everyone can benefit from changing their mindset about charity (His talk is included below).

I found myself sitting in class listening to Matt talk and one simple line he spoke ignited a fire in me.  “If you put people together, opportunities happen.”  This echoed the theme of my class that has a focus on partnerships and collaboration, but even more it spoke volumes about us as human beings.  When we allow ourselves to learn from others – others who are different from us especially – we can truly make a special opportunity happen.  Think of the people that came together to make the medical campus.  It was a simple idea that brought so many people from politicians, to those in the medical and science fields to community leaders together.  Now, Buffalo’s revitalization has come in huge part thanks to the medical campus.

While I have choose this Master’s program, I am constantly surprised by what I can learn both in and out of the classroom.  I have never been one to moan about whether something I was taught would be useful to me, because I naturally assume that I am learning it because there will be a time when it will come in handy.  I have always tried, even when I have been tired, overworked and bored, to simply give learning the benefit of the doubt.  But then there are those moments when learning can simply inspire you.  You can walk out of a classroom completely on fire, ready to take on the world.  That was my Tuesday night class.  I walked out inspired by an individual who I could easily identify with, but more importantly I was inspired to take what I learned and apply it to myself: to go wherever I may go career wise and always be open to other people and their ideas.  That is when you will truly be surprised by what you can learn and what you can accomplish.

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