Outgoing UI seniors hear advice at Last Lecture

BY KATIE HEINE | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Jumping cows may sound silly, but Ken Brown wanted students to see it as something meaningful.

The associate professor in the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business told a group of UI seniors Tuesday night a story of a girl in Germany who trained her cow to jump because she wasn’t allowed to have a horse to show that success comes from commitment and working hard.

“It’s a surprisingly simple but magical formula,” Brown said.

Gaining private victories was the theme of Brown’s speech on Wednesday evening. He spoke to roughly 80 students who piled into a conference room at the Sheraton Hotel for the Last Lecture event sponsored by Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow as a part of Senior Send-Off.

This was the fourth-annual Last Lecture sponsored by the UI Alumni Association and Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow. The lecturers are UI professors suggested and voted on by the group’s members. The lectures usually focus on advice and life after college, said Leslie Prideaux, an assistant director of Alumni Programs.

“It’s our way of welcoming the graduating seniors into alumni-hood,” she said.

Attendance was slightly down from the more than 100 attendees for last year’s lecture by Associate Professor Frank Durham, but the group of seniors at the event said they appreciated it.

“Everyone wonders what he or she is going to do after graduating,” said UI senior Austin Morford. “This reassured that everyone has those thoughts, and there’s something to do about it.”

As someone who is passionate about music, Morford said the lecture settled his nerves about following his dreams. He said he’s now more confident to do what he wants — be involved with music, he said.

Though the 22-year-old noted he has no definite plans after graduation, he said he wants to stay in the Iowa City area.

“You’ve got to give it a shot — that’s all that matters,” he said.

For the second year in a row, Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow sent its senior members a postcard invitation that could be used to get a free drink of choice at the event — alcoholic beverages included.

And some seniors saw that as an incentive to attend the lecture.

Alan Fritzler, a UI senior majoring in management information systems and economics, said he stumbled upon the event while downtown enjoying RiverFeast. But the 22-year-old said he was pleased with his choice to go, citing Brown’s lecture as well-delivered, engaging, and funny.

“It’s about overcoming doubt and not waiting for something to find you,” Fritzler said. “You’ve got to go out and find it.”

The total estimated cost for the event — including food, drinks, and rentals — was about $1,000, Prideaux said. Ninety percent of the University of Iowa Alumni Association is funded through its own funds from membership dues, she said. The remaining 10 percent comes from university funding to maintain the alumni records, she said.

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