By Lara Becker
Most students did not know what to expect when the #StudentVoicesMatter event happened in the Brower Student Center Room 216.
The event, held on Feb. 27 at 10 a.m., consisted of a detailed presentation and a period of student feedback and discussion. Assistant Director of Student Employment Joli McTerrell helped students develop their own value systems and encouraged them to speak up in situations where they felt that their voices would make a difference.
The event motivated students to exercise their personal voices in their everyday lives, whether that be through participating in class or debating about passionate issues.
McTerrell explained the reason for organizing this event.
“It happens to be Black History Month, and as a woman of color, I thought, ‘what better way than to talk to the students about the power of voice, and why it’s important?’” she said.
McTerrell, who is always looking for new and exciting ways to engage students, was elated to use her position at the College to talk to students about the meaning of their personal voice in writing, activism and self-motivation in their daily lives.
McTerrell raised many thought-provoking questions during the course of her presentation. She started out by generally inquiring why people use their voices every day.
Sophomore communication studies major Brandon Long was pleasantly surprised with how the event turned out.
“I liked her attitude,” Long said. “She was very positive, she was super inclusive and I liked the points she was bringing up.”
McTerrell related the idea of developing one’s voice to the importance of debate and participation in classes at the College. She stressed why it matters that they bring their own life experiences to the table in everything that they do or say.
“This program helped me to listen to my inner voice more and establish monologues for myself on a day-to-day basis,” said freshman finance major Akshay Badade. “I learned about the power of my voice. It matters to other people, and most importantly, it matters to yourself.”
Everyone involved was invigorated by McTerrell’s presentation and enthusiasm for the content within the student-led discussion. The well thought-out and meticulously planned points were well-received, according to attending students.
“She was pressing about the meaning of the voice,” Long said. “I wasn’t sure what angle she was going to take, but from her perspective, the most important way to use your voice is internally.”
Long explained how once a personal voice is refined within someone’s mind, it can then be used externally in everyday life to advocate for that person’s beliefs.
McTerrell said that workshopping each students’ own voice is key to fostering personal and professional development. She was thrilled to see a variety of students from different years attend the event.
She also made it a point to connect the discussion with powerful voices throughout history who have left their mark on the world through their distinct values. Exploring how both the collective and individual voices can make a difference challenged students to think of the change they can ignite.
“If your voice is important … who is it important to?” Long said. “It’s important to the school, it’s important to get good grades, but you have to assign your own meaning to it. Especially at this age, and with all the activism that’s happening right now, it’s a critical time to go out and use your voice.”