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Where do you find your inspiration?

(3) Comments | by Gene Fornaro |

Sometimes inspiration falls into my lap.  The beauty of nature, a short glimpse of wildlife or even the smile of the “greeter”, our 85 pound Weimaraner, who trots down the driveway to greet my arrival each evening, gives me pause to reflect.

Other times I purposefully put myself into inspiration’s path – an expertly played sporting event (delete any of those in which I personally participate!), a musical performance, or involvement in the world of art, architecture and construction interwoven into our family pursuits are examples.

Monday evening, I attended the Celebrating the Engaged University Awards ceremony conducted on NC State University campus.  NC State, being the Land Grant University in North Carolina takes our mission seriously to extend the resources of NC State to North Carolina and beyond.  Typical engagements include application of science to clean up waterways; initiation of sustainable agriculture programs in third world countries; helping manufacturers produce their products in environmentally, and cost efficient manners.

Among these examples of exemplary service provided by NC State faculty, staff and students, I find the most inspiration from the stories of our NCSU students.  NC State has a long history of integrating service learning projects with our traditional curriculum.  In fact, we were recognized this past year on a National level for the depth, reach and results produced by innumerable service projects conceived, led and staffed primarily by NC State students.

Our students raise money and a lot of it for multiple, multiple causes (did I hear $50K from the Krispy Kreme Challenge?).  They volunteer in local class rooms, serving as role models and mentors for school age children.  They take Alternate Spring Break (I learned what ASP stands for!) to complete service projects in the poor countries of the world, Haiti, Central America, the Pacific Rim.

I am very, very inspired when, after hearing the individual awardee will be graduating from a very demanding curriculum, and after hearing a long litany of service projects in which the awardee participated, upon being asked “what do you do in your free time?”  The reply: "I volunteer”.

I am very inspired when I learn of students who not only conceive the idea of a new service project, then display the organization skills, the persuasion skills, and the overall demeanor to create their project and lead it to completion.  If this is not an entree into the world of entrepreneurship, I’m not sure what is.

Combine all this service work with 4.0 grade point averages, upcoming Fulbright scholarships and very bright futures, and well, yes, I am inspired.  I am inspired to take a look at my own life and wonder if these students can do it, why am I not contributing more of my skills to the world at large?  There is plenty of opportunity.

Where do you find your inspiration?


  1. {{|e}}'s avatar
    Maria Barbour
    | Permalink

    Thank you for your words of reflection and inspiration. And thanks for reminding me, that no matter how small the deed may be, it’s often taking the time to see the need for the deed. Maybe I need to not just think about, but be a part of an “ASB” - Alternative Service Benefit.

  2. {{|e}}'s avatar
    | Permalink

    This is really profound, and I’m humbled by how much these students accomplish.  I feel old and jaded in comparison.  I get a lot of inspiration from reading, but I don’t know how much I act on it. 

    Good post, Gene.

  3. {{|e}}'s avatar
    | Permalink

    I believe inspiration can be found everywhere you look. We all have the same 24 hours to work with every day and we all have gifts and skills that we can share with the world. When we are not satisfied with what we contribute, we look for inspiration and can find it everywhere.

    On the other hand - sometimes it stands up and waves at us, pointing out that we could do more.

    Thanks for the post - it has inspired some dissatisfaction.

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