Issues to Consider and Questions for Reflection

Two female Medaille students studying in a dorm room
        

Step Out on Nothing: How Faith and Family Helped Me Conquer Life's Challenges cover

Discussion Forum

Issue 1
The Power of Narrative:  Stories function in many ways.  They can entertain us, they can make us think, and sometimes we use them to go to sleep.  Among their many uses, however, it is clear that stories play a vital role in creating our sense of collective and individual identity.  In other words, stories shape the way that we think and feel about our world, as well as how we relate to it and to others.  Consider, for example, how stories often inspire and encourage us to act and move forward when it might be easier just to give up. Do you think Pitts' story of success is inspirational?  Is it motivating?  Below are some questions to help you reflect further on these issues.

  1. Pitts struggled against illiteracy and a stuttering problem early in his life.  How did these problems challenge him?  How did they motivate him?  Why is revealing these struggles so important to his narrative?
  2. How did Pitts' increasing mastery of reading skills empower him to overcome life's obstacles and challenges?
  3. Pitts says that he always goes for the human angle in his reporting.  In what ways does Pitts' approach to reporting give voice to those who might not otherwise have a chance to tell their stories?

Issue 2

The Role of Faith:  Faith is one of those topics that can be difficult to understand.  It is a concept that seems so simple, yet the effect that faith has upon us and our individual understandings of faith are often very complex.  Just as our ideas about faith help to shape our identities, the expression of our faith tells others something about who we are or who we perceive ourselves to be.  For Byron Pitts, faith plays an essential role in just about every aspect of his life.  We can be faithful to an idea, a person or a religion, but what does that really mean?  Below are some questions to help you reflect on this larger one.  

  1. Why is faith so important to Byron Pitts?
  2. What is faith? Are there different forms of faith?  Can a person have faith without religion?  What about faith in one's self?
  3. How important is it to understand the faith of others?  How about the ways in which they express their faith?

Issue 3
Community and Culture:  Pitts' narrative centers around the importance of community and culture in nurturing success.  With the help of individuals who came into his life at pivotal moments, Pitts negotiated a difficult childhood growing up in inner-city Baltimore, starting college life with significant academic impediments, and the challenges of breaking into professional journalism during a time when there were very few African American correspondents on the news.  His mentors broadened his sense of community while contributing to his individual successes.  Taking Pitts' struggles and achievements as a test case, how much of a role do you believe community and culture play in shaping individual success?

  1. Consider the differences between Dr. Lucas and Dr. Lewes.  In what ways did each drive Byron Pitts toward success?  How did Dr. Lewes become part of Pitts' family community?
  2. How did Byron Pitts' friendships with classmates Joe and Pete contribute to his sense of community in each new academic environment?
  3. Pitts credits faith, family, and community with his ability to break through social barriers as he worked toward his goal of becoming a reporter.  How can individuals who lack Pitts' support systems also cultivate supportive communities?

 

Final Thought:  What does it mean to "step out on nothing"?

I'm grateful for the education I've received.

The instructors were knowledgeable and welcomed class discussions, with
respect for each student's contribution. I've learned how to be a more
effective leader. My capstone class gave insight on how to combine all
the education learned to operate a business. That's when I realized how
much I had sharpened my knowledge.

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