Manchester University
Oak Leaves

February 19, 2016


McFadden Invites Students to "Ask Me"

Caitlin Doyle

President McFadden’s spring convocation on Feb. 9 focused on how we learn about ourselves through our interactions with other people. He tied this into his continuing message of “being a better you.” To illustrate this concept, videos and panels of faculty and students helped the audience to realize how their time at Manchester has affected their perspectives.

Another focus of the convocation was the poem “Ask Me” by William Stafford. The former Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, Stafford is important to Manchester because he taught here from 1955 to 1956. His poem directly linked with the convocation through communication. The line “I will listen to what you say” was a common theme throughout the interviews with panels of students and of faculty during the convocation.

The student panel consisted of First-Year Quinn-Michael L’Heureux, and seniors Salwa Nubani and Jarod Schrock. They answered the question “What have you learned about yourself at Manchester?” L’Heureux summed up what many Manchester students seem to have experienced. When he first arrived here, he was not focused on what the other person would be arguing, but rather on what he was going to say next. After spending time in class and on campus, he started to think more about “why” and “what” the other person was saying. “I realized that everybody has some intelligent argument for what they are saying,” he said.

The panel of faculty members was composed of Ahmed Abdelmageed, the pharmacy program director of Experiential Education,  Michelle Calka, assistant professor of communication studies, and Cheri Krueckeberg, associate professor of social work. President McFadden posed them a question about how they are teaching students to learn from others in their classes. As a required course at Manchester, Communication 110 is a great class to teach all students an important lesson, Calka said. “In Comm 110, we spend a lot of time talking about listening,” she said. “Listening is an important part of the communication process.”

She noted that students learn about listening by repeating back what they understood another person to say. This lets both students realize that what one person says may not be how another interprets it. We have an ethical imperative to seek, first, to understand,” Calka said. “So before we respond, we make sure we understand the point from that person and where their perspective may be coming from.”

Abdelmageed talked about how pharmacy students learn the way of doing things in class, but they actually learn what is needed when those students are in the setting that requires learning about another person. “What we teach them is to go in with an open mind to see how your pharmacist, or role model, in that setting is approaching communication, in order to understand the perspective of the patient, to better educate the patient, and to deliver the best healthcare that we can,” Abdelmageed said.  He referred to some challenges that students may face outside of the classroom, such as interpreting cues as to whether one medication will work for a person based on their actual life and not the assumed “normal” version.  Abdelmageed referred to applying the knowledge that the students will learn in class to future life skills.

During his wrap-up of the spring convocation, McFadden shared a story about how he strongly dislikes public speaking. He shared this story in order to connect with students. Public speaking is difficult, he noted. And so, McFadden also strongly urged the importance of listening, mutual respect and not judging others. These are all key elements of learning from others to become “a better you.”