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Engaging people who are making positive contributions is a step toward the sacrificial quality Jeremi Suri refers to in his recent column about developing citizens of character. Accepting sacrifice, Suri says, builds character because it makes citizens strive for what they really value. While developing your interests and passions, develop yourself as an advocate. When your passions align with advocacy, sacrifice no longer seems like the burden it’s often made out to be.
Doing well and doing good requires a balancing act. Doing well for yourself is something most undergraduates think about. We are programmed to look at job prospects. That’s the way our educational system is structured — you pay in and eventually you need to be paid back. Schools are ranked by job placement and salary, which encourages students to pick their majors based on postgraduate statistics. But meaningful work does not always come with a salary.
That being said, doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive things. The latter just requires a bit more creativity. There’s so much we can do as students, outside of our majors, to find our means of advocacy.
To begin with, discover your interests and stay curious. This is a research university, and the professors here do more than teach. They research. They’re activists. They’re innovators.
Our professors have done anything from helping develop a late-stage cure for exposure to anthrax to serving as national security advisers under the president. If you’re interested in something, there will be a professor who writes about it or has done work in the field.
Eureka, an online UT database, profiles faculty members with information about their research interests. Professors are great resources for academic, professional and personal guidance. They’re plugged into the University, so they can refer you to organizations and other interesting people. Find the people making positive contributions, doing things you’re interested in and engage them.
Shah is a business and government sophomore from Temple.