Viewpoint: Engage your brain, attend more lectures

By Sara Katherine Johnson
Lariat Reporter

When I graduate, one thing I will miss about Baylor will be the lectures. Some people will come back for homecoming, I will come back for the Beall Poetry Festival.

Everyone should find time to work lectures into their schedule, even if they will not get extra credit for them. It is fun and there are topics for everyone.

The OnTopic lectures with President and Chancellor Ken Starr get a lot of attention for bringing renowned guests like Sandra Day O’Connor and Condoleezza Rice. The Beall Poetry Festival and Beall-Russell Lecture annually bring in countless literary masters, including Seamus Heaney and Tracy K. Smith.

I would encourage people to also attend the lectures that they do not get emails about. Students particularly should seek these opportunities out to hear from a variety of people on topics they love.

One day the majority of us will not live in a spot so convenient for attracting so many different kinds of speakers. Furthermore, once we leave, opportunities like this will likely require purchasing a pricey ticket of some kind. Right now it is all part of the Baylor package. Take advantage of it.

Another reason students should attend lectures is for the other people attending. The possibilities of new people to meet are great. We have all heard the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Cliche? Yes. True? Yes, again. All kinds of people go to lectures – professors, community members, potential employers and potential friends. If a lecture is enjoyable, do not hesitate to look around. Take note of who else is enjoying.

Students may be surprised to learn how refreshing a lecture might be. It is the best form of inspiration. Getting to hear from people who spend every day immersed in what they love can make it easier to see the light at the end. A lecture might even encourage a new career aspirations.

The Martin Museum of Art plays host to numerous artists who give gallery talks, often with refreshments included. Art, socializing and snacks. That is a winning combination.

In 2012, Jean Bethke Elshtain compared and contrasted Batman and St. Augustine at a talk held by the Institute for Studies of Religion. It was one of the most fun lectures I have attended. Going to lectures is a great way to engage the brain, learn something new and be social.

One reason I guess people do not go to lectures is sometimes it might be hard to tell which ones will be of interest. I would argue almost all of them are gold, but for beginners just look for three things.

The first thing to check for is a snazzy title. If it sounds boring, it might be. If it sounds intriguing, take a chance.

The second thing to do is Google the speaker for a preview of who the speaker is. Maybe the speaker is interesting but the lecture topic is not selling itself. Go anyway and ask questions.

Third, if the flier looks cool, just go with it.

Maybe that sounds too simple, but it is not complicated. Take five minutes and check out a bulletin board or the fliers in the Baylor Science Building elevator. The rewards are too great to write these opportunities off all four years of college.

Sara Katherine Johnson is a senior journalism and professional writing double major from Katy. She is a reporter for the Lariat.