A back arrow

All Articles

Lessons Learned, Part XII

Lessons Learned, Part XII

Alumni July 25, 2022

Gifts that God gives us

Alexandria Bennett ’21
Bachelor’s in communication
Social media strategist, University of Dayton

Alexandria BennettMy mother told me, “Never dim your light.” Whether in personal, professional or relational settings, I always try to be my real, authentic self. The gifts that God gives us are our greatest strengths. If mine is the ability to connect with people, then I cannot let anything dim my light.

Adulting comes with credit, bills and a constant battle between what I want/need and should go without. Lack of and abundance of money can both have their struggles. I don’t know if money is the root of all evil, but it sure makes people do some insane things for a piece of paper.

I’d like to think that time is meaningless. Arbitrary. We made it up. It’s not a concrete measure of progress, success or life lived. I wonder what life would be like if we could set our own schedule. If time was just an endless stream of possibilities.

“I’d like to think that time is meaningless. Arbitrary. We made it up.”

I’m a huge daddy’s girl. He’s always been there to support my dreams. And as a Class of 2009 UD graduate, he’s one of the main reasons I chose UD. Our Flyer bond did nothing but strengthen the father-daughter bond that already existed.

Patience is one of the rarest qualities to have nowadays. With the boom of social media and media in general, our attention spans have drastically declined. I would love to see how calm and patient of a society we could be if quiet meditation/manifestation/playing the long game was a part of our collective daily routine.

My mother is a very strong role model. With three degrees, Dr. Dione Parker Bennett is a force to be reckoned with. Her resilience is astounding. Her strength comes from the Lord, but I also believe her strength lies in her love for her family.

Failure is a sign that you’ve tried, you’re making bold choices and although you may have a long way to go, you’ve got some new tools for the journey. It helps me find my way, my next steps, and define my future goals. Failure can be beautiful.

The meaning of life is simply connection. People, ourselves, nature, and whichever higher power piques your interest. Maybe the meaning of life is love. Unconditional, never-ending love for all beings that exist within our fleeting space and time. Maybe love is the answer — the beginning and ending and all there is in between.

“Maybe love is the answer — the beginning and ending and all there is in between.” 

Find a creative outlet and the courage and motivation to pursue what makes you happy regardless of obstacles. Listen to your body, nourish your soul and take time every day to experience a moment of calm.

Finding joy

Shannon Van Horn ’13, ’19
Bachelor’s in special education
Master’s in educational leadership
Public school intervention specialist

Shannon Van HornEducation is important. It’s also important for people to find a career path they love and seek the education appropriate for that path. Education shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all, and we need to normalize different paths in education.

I’m not a huge traveler — give me a good stay-cation. When I do vacation, I enjoy going to different cities and exploring for a few days.

My favorite way to spend an evening is relaxing with a book and winding down from the day.

Everyone has to find their own definition of success. For me, being successful is finding joy in what I do and having a positive impact on those around me.

“Being successful is finding joy in what I do and having a positive impact on those around me.”

My immediate family is very small but very close, and they always make me laugh. We have a way of joking with each other that just builds and builds until we are all laughing uncontrollably. We speak “sarcasm,” so everyone always has to be on their toes. Family is extremely important. They are the best support system I have.

When I was a first-year teacher, a colleague shared this Maya Angelou quote: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” It can be easy to get caught up in everything that goes wrong, but I think it is always important to learn and grow from situations.

“Best friends become like family.”

Best friends become like family. There is an unconditional level of support, but they can also have the hard conversations. A good friend is loyal and challenges you to be the best version of yourself.

I am a planner, but I hate planning events. I like planning my own life and knowing what to expect in situations, but in my social life I enjoy just going with the flow.

Technology advancement has been positive overall but it has also exposed a lot of problems we have as a society. As someone who grew up with rapid technological advances, I was taught to have a healthy fear of the internet and technology.

As a teacher I have the pleasure of being around young people every day. The joy they bring, along with their own worldviews, is comforting and inspiring. Their thoughts and ideas are often limitless and I think everyone could benefit from listening to and being around children. They see the world in such an unfiltered way that it often forces me to reexamine my own views.


As told to Jeaneen Parsons