Ten speakers took the stage Thursday night in the Sun Room of the Memorial Union as part of an event hosted by the Student Union Board, called “What Matters To Me and Why.”
The speakers included students, faculty and staff, all of whom shared with the audience meaningful life lessons that they had learned through past experiences, spoke about the most important things in their lives and how they have been shaped by them.
Ethan Subra, senior in journalism and mass communication and public relations officer for the ISU Cyclone Battalion Army ROTC, spoke about his first few months at Iowa State as a freshman, when he was unhappy with where he was at and unsure of where he was going.
By becoming involved with things around campus, and by joining Iowa State’s champion ROTC program, Subra found what mattered to him: being a part of something.
“We all have roles, no matter what they are,” Subra said. “But if you’re just showing up and not really being involved, you’re not doing your best. I guarantee you’ll feel better if you feel involved with whatever you’re doing.”
Onalie Ariyabandha is a sophomore international student ambassador from Sri Lanka studying economics, international studies and environmental studies. Ariyabandha is a survivor of the devastating tsunami that hit Sri Lanka in 2004.
She spoke about how tragic events can remind us of what is most important to us, and how family and friends can help us get through tough times.
“It might not seem important at times, but when you go through a trauma, that is all that matters,” Ariyabandha said. “All you need is someone to support you, help you, and listen to you. During the tsunami, family is all that mattered to me. And trust me, if something goes wrong someday, all of you will feel that too.”
Meaghan Nelson, senior in kinesiology and All-American student athlete for ISU cross-country and track and field, talked about her first few years at Iowa State as being overwhelmingly stressful. The most important things in her life — friends and family — took a spot on the backburner as she focused her attention with school and track and field.
Her mother’s battle with lung cancer reminded her of the importance of staying close to family, to live in the moment and to savor the little things in life.
“Enjoy the process. Realize who the important people are in your life, and don’t take them for granted,” Nelson said. “God has blessed me with wonderful people in my family, at home, and many others here at Iowa State, and those relationships are what are most important to me now.”
Merry Rankin, director of sustainability at Iowa State, said the most important thing in her life is what lies ahead for us in the future. She believes there is great potential for a better world if people emphasize sustainability in many areas of their lives — socially, environmentally and economically.
“The future matters to me because so much and so many depend upon it," Rankin said. "The future ensures more learning will take place, it ensures more research will be completed, it ensures more solutions will be discovered, and it ensures more generations will follow.”
Other speakers included Clinton M. Stephens, scholar-in-residence for leadership education; Moses Bomett, founder of philanthropic organization Hope 4 Africa; Katie Brown, GSB vice president; Augustine Villa, brain tumor survivor; Dave Arends, Dance Marathon co-director; and Michael Bugeja, director the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication.
Brianna Haguewood, SUB Awareness Director and junior in journalism and mass communication, said the SUB Committee put on the event to remind students to always be conscious of what truly matters to them and why.
“This is supposed to be the time in our life when we're finding out all about ourselves, but how often do we actually stop and decide what’s important to us?” Haguewood said.