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The University of Oregon is my happy place.

When I walk through the center of campus I remember eating fro-yo on the lawn in the quad in sundresses with friends, reading/people watching on my favorite bench, rejoicing that I passed Human Physiology as I pass McKenzie Hall, ordering take-out from my fave Chinese place, sipping coffee from Roma, turning in my Info Hell paper (100-page public policy paper) and the resulting pride, cheering on my Ducks at Autzen or Mac Court.

I could go on forever.

In short, I love my school and have so many sweet memories there.

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The new Allen Hall (School of Journalism and Communication) is AMAZING. I’m so happy for today’s journalism students and the incredible space they have to learn, collaborate and create.

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First Amendment reminder as students walk in for class each morning.

First Amendment reminder as students walk in for class each morning.

TV monitors show news around the world in the Allen Atrium.

TV monitors show news around the world in the Allen Atrium.

Zee, Kelli and me

Zee, Kelli and me

The parents and I met up with Kelli Matthews, my former professor and her two sweet boys for a tour of the J-School’s new digs. (Side note: Kelli was recently ranked #15 on a list of the top 100 web-savy professors. Go Kelli!) It was lovely to see her and hear about how students are enjoying the new space.

Last night I had the privilege of attending the Ruhl Lecture at the alumni center. This year’s speaker was Ann Curry. As I said previously, I’ve admired Ann for years.

She began by saying that, “it’s good to be home.” With poise and grace she shared from her heart about her career, what she’s learned, what she’s struggled with and where she’s been (some pretty extreme places, by the way).

With each story of her jumping out of a helicopter, or interviewing a refugee, she pulled back the curtain and we saw her heart as a woman and as a journalist. She stressed the importance of journalism’s core function: “To empower humanity to set a course for a better future.”

I was impressed when she said that she had faith in the intelligence and heart of people, but that “what people don’t know, doesn’t exist.” This is why she said it has become her mission to “give a voice to the voiceless.” This heartbeat has been her driving force over the years amidst the pressures from peers and ratings.

Traveling to every nook and cranny of the world, she has held the hand of a dying woman and slept in a refugee camp, all to see what others see, to understand what others know as their reality and to ultimately tell their stories for the world to hear and know. “People who are rarely heard have the most to say,” she emphasized.

It was clear as she spoke that her “job” has had a tremendous impact on her emotionally. While poised, at times I thought she might cry. Revealing a most vulnerable place, she shared that she’s a PTSD survivor and she encouraged students who are pursuing broadcast journalism to take care of their hearts and minds when pursuing this profession. One of the factors that keeps her focused is her belief that “journalism is a factor in opening people’s eyes.” One example she gave was The Civil Rights Movement and how the media covered The March on Washington. She said that as we look back on history, we can see that “without journalism, there wouldn’t be freedom.”

One of the many takeaways from the lecture for me was Ann’s reminder to never compromise on quality.

I’m so grateful to be a Duck and even more grateful for the Ducks who came before me. They paved the way for my education at the UO and my career.

It was an incredible joy to hear from Ann. I look forward to her next project and it’s resulting impact on her viewers and the world.

I encourage you to watch Ann’s lecture in the video below. (It’s just under an hour.)

Video streaming by Ustream