Archive | April 2013

Academic Balance Beam

A few years ago, I had written an article questioning the worth of a liberal arts education. I had wondered where students’ job prospects lied after graduating with a degree in French or History. However, after growing as a person and encountering that the most well rounded people came from a liberal arts background, my breadth of understanding what a true education is all about expanded.
The statistics four years ago could have scared any scholar into jumping to a vocational school. Let’s be realistic, job opportunities were scarce and the only stable market consisted of those in the medical field. Now, with work opportunities stabilizing all across the board, technology no longer runs a company down the drain. People have learned how to use it as a tool rather than cower beneath it. Now, with this adaption society can return to the sustenance of what manifests life. As James O. Freedman was quoted in saying in The New York Times, “Liberal education opens our eyes…it’s about understanding yourself and having some resources to deal with everything life throws at you.” The former Dartmouth president speaks to the equal sentiment shared in articles written in the Huffington Post and Newsday.
While there is neither specific determinant nor formula as to what would be the perfect choice of college or university for a high school graduate, it is important that other than following their instincts and cost vs. benefit, there should never be a ruling out of a certain area of schools such as those in the liberal arts league. Various alumnae ranging from Hilary Clinton, Martha Stewart, Bob Woodruff and Bradley Whitford amongst others have shown that in various fields how their Political Science or English degree proved to useful.
Not only does a liberal arts education supplement the critical thinking skills required in any field, but it also helps stimulate interest and participate in learning about the world one lives in.

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Facing the Facts

David Smiley took the initiative to answer my question. He is a reporter from the Miami Herald who joined the ranks of other respectable reporters and co-anchors from Univision, Channel 10 News and Telemundo. There was a pause before he answered, “With the increasing competition [that is in the field of journalism], do you agree that some journalists exaggerate the news to appeal to a wider audience? And have any of you taken part in it?”
Smiley said that it was at times difficult to separate your own personal views on a topic you feel passionate about. At the moment, he could not pinpoint a certain story he wrote to prove his point, he did admit that at times even he has been accused of exaggerating the details of a story. While he candidly looked me in the eye, he said it was never to get more attention for the newspaper. At that point Helen Aguirre Ferre took to the microphone and added that with certain stories that a journalist feels passionate about it is almost impossible to pick out lines that are of personal opinion, because it is so infused into the story. While reporters like her rarely get to cover those stories, she explained to the audience that there was a market for that. However, she continued, it was difficult to be in that specialty and not get criticized or judged for what you say.
After the forum something that was pointed out, stuck in my mind. Other than networks such as CNN that feature Piers Morgan, there are rarely local networks that pay a journalist to give their opinion. If anything, they host a debate amongst two differing parties and at times, when it gets to matters of the heart such as Smiley said, they might interject a bit of their opinion.
It is evident as to why probably 90% of journalists are not paid to give their personal take on the matter. Many could be corrupted and paid under the table by monopolies that want their ideals sold to the public. Others could have the freedom of barely scratching the subject and being as bias as possible. However, at times it is vital to hear another’s point of view. Just as Piers Morgan educates himself on a matter and presents it to the public and hosting debates – he still manages to be respectful while still showing as to which side he leans more towards. While in the wrong hands this can corrupt a nation, at certain times – especially with local news – it is necessary to not just host a debate but to play devil’s advocate and ask the hard questions.
One inquiry that all the journalists were asking the audience was how the networks should reinvent the news to rake in more ratings. Many suggested finding a way to reach the youth through Twitter and Facebook, but perhaps with reporters that feel as passionate about all matters and ask as much of a piercing question towards changing regulations to a school’s dismissal hour as to a presidential Q and A the local news can possibly finally share as much limelight as the large networks.

Prompt: In a short story of no more than 650 words, tell of a character who approaches a story with minimal importance nationally with as much weight as one that did.

Religious Renovations

With Pope Francis newly elected, one wonders about his plans for leading the Roman Catholic Church. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, caused controversy in 2010 when he admitted that in certain cases condoms were acceptable. If Pope Francis furthers “certain” to “all” it will revolutionize the Church and possibly lead to more successful relationships.
While most Catholics would believe that their faith insinuates to wait until marriage to have sex, they will be surprised to know that during ancient Roman times the teachings varied. For starters, there existed no marriage. For the Jews, they believed that marriage was vital to later go on and produce offspring. This was in large part due to them wanting to pass on their faith and lineage. However, according to experts of the Bible they have determined that initially certain apostles rejected the idea of marriage. They condemned the human urge to reproduce. In fact, the Apostle Paul said that there was no need to get married and procreate, because there existed enough people as it was to convert to Catholicism. Even during his time, the most faithful of followers rejected his claim.
With marital unions being a custom of most – if not all – cultures, a tradition that varies depending on the society, some people have come to wonder how they can advance their relationship before officially sealing the “deal”. According to a research reviewed by Elizabeth Gilbert in her novel Committed, psychologists claim that before entering into matrimony one of the main components that needs to be discussed is sex. Without tending to the matter before marriage, the lack of satisfaction and not knowing how to deal with the situation later on can lead to straying partners and eventually to the courts to sign a divorce. With this in mind, the idea that sex should be reserved for after marriage should be reconsidered. This is not to say that a marathon of sexual experiences should be advised, but to be conducted with a potential lifetime partner.
While it is unlikely that Pope Francis will completely renovate the face of the Catholic Church during his reign, what he does on matters of romance can potentially further the modernization of the faith. Every small step, as Pope Benedict XVI showed, will be welcomed by this generations’ followers.

Prompt: In a monologue of no more than 300 words, allow a character to describe what his or her religion is.