Fresno State Talks debuts Thursday as student-selected speaker Honora Chapman lectures on the importance of self-discovery.
The inaugural lecture series features three dynamic speakers throughout the spring semester each representing one aspect of the university’s new slogan: Discovery, Diversity and Distinction.
Inspired by TED Talks, University Student Unions (USU) Productions created Fresno State Talks to give a venue for student-selected professors to share their personal and academic expertise, interests or experiences with a wider audience.
Andrew Esguerra, one of the coordinators of Fresno State Talks and USU Productions, said the main goal for the series is to tie the campus and students together.
“We are hoping that students learn and feel more united to the campus, and from that they gain school pride,” he said.
For nominations, students were asked, “What professor inspires you, and how?” Students were eager to recognize professors, as many nominations were submitted. All nominees will be honored at the events.
Sophomore Kari Ball nominated Chapman, coordinator of classics and director of Smittcamp Family Honors College, for being an outstanding professor and inspiring mentor.
“Dr. Chapman truly is a treasure here at Fresno State,” she said. “She knows what her students need, helps them find their path and encourages them to pursue their goals in every aspect.”
Chapman was one of 20 finalists for the “Discovery” lecture. All finalists submitted abstracts or outlines of their lectures and curriculum vitae, often more than 30 pages.
Chapman said it is really exciting to know that there are that many people who took the time to respond to the nomination.
“That means that there really are so many great people out there who can be mentors for students,” she said. “I don’t think students realize how much their professors care.”
Her talk is titled Eureka, meaning, “I have found it.”
She said students light up and become happy upon figuring out what their true major should be and what career path to take.
“If they are really unhappy in the major they are in, they don’t perform well across the board,” she said. “If you are unhappy, how can you do the most for others? You just can’t.”
For the past 24 years at Stanford, Santa Clara and Fresno State, she has taught Greek and Latin at all levels, Greek and Roman surveys, Roman history, early Christianity history and medieval and Renaissance history.
Chapman clearly chose the right path, as she became instantly animated and excited when talking about her students. Her passion is evident for her “vocation” (it is not called a job when you love what you do, she said).
Chapman’s talk will be very Fresno-State oriented, she said, focusing on the opportunities available on campus and how to maximize the experience.
“This is essentially a commuter campus, and 19 out of 20 students do not live here,” she said. “How are they going to make the most of this experience?”
She hopes her lecture and the entire series will help students recognize the vibrant intellectual life on campus and that discovery, diversity and distinction really do exist in an “excellent” way. It’s far richer than students realize, she said.
“This is a place where you can truly achieve great things in all categories of endeavor if you put your mind and energy to it,” she said.
Whichever major they choose, all 20,000-plus students can have great opportunity if they seize them, she said.
“If you are honest with yourself and truly try, you are bound to find something that will truly motivate you to be happy in life and to make the most of it and to contribute the most,” she said.
Esguerra said Chapman’s lecture will really stand out.
“Reading hers made me personally think, ‘Yeah, this is why I go here,’ ” he said. “It reminded me why I go to school and why it’s important to strive for my dreams.”
A reception for Chapman will be on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Satellite Student Union, followed by her lecture at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
Fresno State Talks continues Feb. 28 with T. Hasan Johnson and March 5 with Gilbert.