Start Something That Matters
In February 2012, we attended the National First Year Conference in San Antonio, Texas where Blake Mycoskie spoke at the author’s luncheon about his new book “Start Something That Matters”. Inspired by his story, we decided to incorporate the book into our First Year Program at the University of Charleston, West Virginia. The book was a natural fit for our unique curriculum, where the common read is used to support the core elements of the mission of the university; productive work, enlightened living and community involvement.
During the freshman orientation, students worked together in their learning communities to decorate the letters in “Start Something That Matters” in part to begin to create a bond within their group but also to create a unique sign for their freshman photo which hangs proudly in the student union for future generations to see. Students also used the “Start Something That Matters” stencil to paint their own t-shirts.
Throughout the next two semesters, the freshman will begin to explore how they can “start something that matters” in their community or on a global scale. They will complete a service learning project in their freshman orientation class and create a documentary on how they completed the project and how the mission and core values of the university were incorporated into their experience.
Each week mentors give their freshman a quote of the week to help inspire them, much like Blake does in his book. We are also asking them to journal about their experiences, their reading and future goals. The “Start Something that Matters Teaching Guide” is a wonderful tool for guiding the mentors in classroom discussions and journal topics. At the end of the year we have a freshman “Red Carpet Event” where the winners of the best Service Learning Project and Documentary will be recognized. We plan to decorate the entire campus with a “Start Something That Matters” theme. We also plan to have a “Style Your Sole” event and the students will be participating in One Day Without Shoes.
In his book, Blake encourages young people to follow their dreams, find their passion and earn a living at the same time. This is exactly what we want to teach our students; to love what they do, explore their world and give back to their community. “Start Something That Matters” has been such a success here at the University of Charleston; we have already decided to use this book as our common read for the next two years.
By: Deborah A. Bannister, MA