On Sept. 8, fall semester’s Six O’Clock Series kicked off with “Making Your Mark on IUP and Around the World” by Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Alumna Courtney O’Connell.
O’Connell opened the program by promoting her passion, “disrupting education with the goal of creating an experience where everyone can thrive.” She encouraged people in the audience to pursue whatever it is they are passionate about, no matter how far-fetched their aspirations may seem.
“The truth of the matter is extraordinary begins as ordinary. A lot of times, our big ideas don’t start out as big,” O’Connell said.
She used the stories of a number of today’s “mark-makers,” such as J. K. Rowling, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York) and Michael Jordan – who all found success in ordinary ways – to encourage audience members to take the first step toward their goals.
“I truly believe that life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” O’Connell said. “We don’t even allow ourselves to see what is possible because we don’t believe in ourselves. Most of the time, the biggest roadblock in trying to make your mark is yourself.”
She stressed the commonality between all “mark-makers” is passion, but said that it is OK for college students to not know what they’re passionate about yet. She encouraged trying two to three new things every year. She also emphasized that the enthusiasm that connects all “mark-makers” can be “both a blessing and a curse.” She warned the audience of becoming overcommitted and ending up “burnt out.”
She concluded the program by encouraging members of the audience to take action in whatever it is they want to pursue.
“All you need is heart, hustle and a Twitter account,” O’Connell said.