While acknowledging that most people resist change, Rita Gow, the 2010-11 Professor of the Year, urged the College’s incoming class today (Aug. 30) to embrace it.
Gow, the keynote speaker at Keuka’s academic convocation, said that change “pushes us outside our comfort zone.
“But it’s good to step outside that box,” she explained. “You are excited to be here at Keuka and you are wondering how this new experience is going to work out. We all feel a bit of anxiety at some point—this is not necessarily a bad thing. It can motivate you.”
The associate professor of accounting told the Class of 2015 and new transfer students that they came to college to make changes in their lives.
“You hope to gain knowledge that will serve you well in whatever choice of major and career you contemplate,” said Gow. “Some of you came here with definite ideas in mind and others have no clue. College is a journey. You may take many different turns in the road to find out what satisfies you and makes you happy.”
Gow urged the newcomers not to be afraid of failure.
“We resist change because of the fear of unknown,” she said, “but it’s really a fear of failure. Students often don’t talk in class because they have a fear of failure—not getting things right. You can’t fail if you don’t try, but you can’t succeed either. Failure is the only way to learn how to succeed.”
Gow cautioned that she was not talking about failure in terms of academics.
“It is not OK to fail your courses,” she stated.
Gow then combined academics with aspirations, saying that “whatever your perception of your abilities in high school, wipe the slate clean and change it now.
“When a student thinks something is hard in my class, I tell them they have the ability and they can do it,” she said. “They just need to try, by taking it step by step. Effort and practice will help you to be successful in anything you do.”
It was the first academic convocation for President Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera.
“I have been here about two months longer than you so, in essence, we’re all newcomers to Keuka Park,” he told the new students. “You will always be special because we came to Keuka together.”
Although he has only been president a short time, “I can honestly say that you made the right decision to attend Keuka College,” he said. “How do I know this? I did my homework before I applied for the job—just like you did. And, I’m pleased to say, all the good vibes I had about Keuka College have been reinforced in the short time I’ve been on campus. In the many conversations I have had so far, one thing resonates loud and clear: our community is passionate about this place and eager to help. You and I made the right choice. We made the right decision to come here and join the Keuka family.”
Díaz-Herrera praised Keuka faculty members for being “leaders in their fields. You will learn from some of the top educators in our country. But they also are superb advisers, consultants, and confidants.”
And like the faculty, Keuka staff members “are terrific at what they do and we all put the needs of our students first.”