Darron Collins, president of the College of the Atlantic and former Managing Director at the World Wildlife Fund, spoke about the trajectory of his career path and what role he had in creating an educational experience that projected him into a field he is wildly passionate about. While the opportunities he had were specific to the College of the Atlantic, I think the advice he gave as to how to go about pursuing one’s passions was sound and applicable to any university. Mr. Collins mentioned that the key to successful learning is learning by doing, learning about issues in context, and learning to better the world. One can go about learning this way by doing internships, working in labs, and experiencing life outside of a classroom. Many schools offer opportunities like these; perhaps the more difficult thing is to discover your passion. Before he worked with the World Wildlife Fund, Mr. Collins was drawn to wolves. He took many classes about wolves and spent quite a bit of time learning about them, but it wasn’t until he was out in the field studying wolves that he realized he might want to branch out. This change of mind really helped me to understand that passions and dreams are always evolving and changing, and that it’s fine to not know what you want to do with the rest of your life at the age of 17. This was perhaps the most crucial aspect of Mr. Collins’ lecture; it’s okay to be unsure. The most important thing is to take classes that interest you and explore ideas that fascinate you, so that you can hopefully find something that makes you excited to go to work.
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