Students should invest in AlabamaBy Samantha Rudelich | 09/28/2016 11:43pm
The lights shut off and the crowd starts to scream. He rises on a dark platform and it moves to hover over the mosh pit. As he ascends over the crowd, the dim spotlight surrounding him shifts to the people below him and turns into a searing bright light focused on the audience. And say what you want about Kanye West, but I found it enlightening to see someone that had reached such high level of success literally putting the spotlight one others, especially at his concert. For the majority of the concert, he remained in the shadows while the audience became the focal point of the performance. There is no way for me to know his reasoning behind this decision, however, I appreciated this idea of shining the light on others and made me think of ways that we can replicate this approach in our own lives.
I think that we, as students of The University of Alabama, have a responsibility to shine the light on the vibrant communities around us. As students privileged with the pursuit of higher education it should be our job to use our opportunities to further the well-being of the lives around us.
Take one step out from the campus bubble and authentic Alabama immediately embraces you. Exploring Alabama you begin to see the incredible but struggling communities. Increasing poverty rates, struggling education and economic systems along with corrupt government practices plague our entire state. However, you take the time to interact with anyone in the communities around the state and you find kind and generous people that truly value community.
While our school continues to expand and the numbers of out-of-state students grows by the day, I worry that we become more and more disconnected with Alabama. The influx of out-of-state students does good in that it expands the scope of influence that Alabama has on our country. As an out-of-state student, I appreciate the geographic diversity that this university increases each year. However, the mindset that students come here for four years and then just leave without contributing to Alabama should be highly discouraged. It needs to be the expectation that if you come here, you engage in service in local communities.
Higher education is undeniably a privilege. By seeking education opportunities, we have the time and resources to work alongside communities and accomplish progress together. This is four years of our lives when we have the time and knowledge necessary to be positive impacts to the world around us. Whether you grew up in Alabama or your first time here was at Bama Bound, we all owe the state of Alabama and the university for educating us inside and outside the classroom. To ignore our responsibility to give back to the state that embraced all of us would be doing ourselves and our community a huge disservice.
To put it simply - it is time to shine the light on Alabama. By attending this university and living in Alabama, we have a stake in the future of the state. Let us all take a cue from Kanye West and highlight those around us by investing in our Alabama communities. If you want to get involved in service, visit the UA’s Center for Service and Leadership’s website at volunteer.ua.edu.
Samantha Rudelich is a senior majoring in business management. Her column runs biweekly.