Love Your Mind, Love Your Differences: Landmark’s Fall 2013 Convocation Welcomes New Students
by Solvegi Shmulsky
On a balmy late summer day in beautiful southern Vermont, Landmark College welcomed families to its 28th year specializing in the education of students who learn differently. Convocation, from the Latin “coming together,” is a semi-annual ceremony where students, families, faculty, and staff celebrate the beginning of a new academic endeavor. Addressing hundreds of spectators including 250 new students, speakers talked about the power of different minds while also delineating what makes Landmark College distinctive.
Speaker Jessica Brockway, current Landmark College student and vice president of the Student Government Association, previewed the messages of convocation succinctly. “Last I checked I was neither square nor round,” she said. “We are all sitting on the edge of endless opportunities.”
The inspirational guest speaker— Steve Walker, a self-taught engineer, entrepreneur, and international leader in energy specializing in wood pellets from New Hampshire — shared his experiences as a lifelong learner with dyslexia. Walker (pictured) was featured in the HBO movie Journey Into Dyslexia, about the misperceptions and implications of dyslexia in the business world. He recounted how his life was filled with bad experiences in school because of the trouble he had reading, and remembered being told that his future options would be limited if he didn’t get better grades. “My mom said if I didn't go to college I would be working at a factory,” Walker said. “I just didn't know I would own the factory.”
Addressing the new group of Landmark College students directly, Walker said, “The world is what is a little different … not your minds,” as he pointed to students. “You guys are going to run the world. Different minds are truly running the world.”
The contemporary challenges and promise of post-secondary education came through in the message of Dr. Peter Eden, Landmark College president. Eden commented on the recently publicized higher education reforms of President Obama. “At Landmark College, we will continue to measure the things President Obama listed in his proposal,” he said. “We follow closely statistics such as how many students remain at Landmark, how much financial debt a student and family accumulates, how successful our students are at graduating from here, and from other institutions.”
He then emphasized that the College will stay committed to growth and development of its students. “But we also value other ‘metrics’ tied more directly to learning, success, confidence, skills, perseverance, progress,” he said. “We are resolute in our commitment to the unique value of a Landmark College education.”
What is the unique value of a Landmark College education? Speaker Robert Munley III, a graduate of Landmark College who practices law and lives with his wife and four children in Pennsylvania, admitted that when he first heard about Landmark, he wasn’t excited about applying. “I thought it would be more of what I had already gotten for 20 years,” said Munley. Instead, he found that Landmark is a distinctively inclusive environment. “You are going to be provided an environment like you have never felt before,” Munley told students. “You will feel confident to raise your hand in class—this is the place to do it.”
Delivering a faculty perspective, Christie Herbert, associate professor of art at Landmark College said, “What I think makes Landmark different from any other college is that here we not only accept but actually honor our difficulties. We know that the best way to move through them is to share them, to care for others around us, to maintain a sense of humor, and to gain perspective by being honest and working hard.”
Landmark College’s 2013 convocation was filled with affirming and forward-looking messages to start the academic year. The College welcomes new students and their families to its unique tradition as a leader in the education of students who learn differently.
Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, a graduate level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model—designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.
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