Dealing with busy college lives is a topic that almost all Fairfield students can relate to. On Nov. 30, in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business Dining Room, motivational speaker Tracy Knofla spoke on the topic of thriving in chaos and how to better manage different responsibilities.
Knofla has acted as a motivational speaker for 25 years. She has traveled the country speaking to higher education, corporate and nonprofit audiences. Additionally, she has authored a book called “Thriving in Chaos.”
Knofla came to Fairfield as the kickoff event of Project Yes You Can, a new club at Fairfield that was started by Margaret Moore ’19 that teaches people that all goals can be accomplished.
Moore, who was born with cerebral palsy, a physical disability that impairs muscle control, said, “My family raised me like any other child, teaching me that I was no different than anybody else, and that I could achieve anything that I set my mind to … I have received a normal education, I am living out my dream of becoming a writer and author and I have done some crazy awesome things like zip-lining and parasailing.”
Moore came to the realization that the way she was raised is not the norm and that many disabled people do not receive a “normal” education. Eventually, both abled and disabled, give up on their dreams because they do not have faith that they can accomplish them.
“I decided I needed to change this, so for my Girl Scout Gold Award project, I established an initiative known as The Yes You Can Movement by speaking to audiences about overcoming obstacles to achieve those so-called impossible dreams and by blogging about my experiences on a Facebook page called The Yes You Can Movement,” Moore continued.
Moore decided that she wanted to have an even larger role in creating change, so she created Project Yes You Can at Fairfield.
The club was approved in October and will begin having regular meetings in January.
Knofla, who met Moore five years ago through Girl Scouts, wanted to speak at the kickoff event when she found out that Moore was starting a club.
“I think [Project Yes You Can] has such great potential here,” said Knofla. “I’m so proud of Meg for bringing it to Fairfield and I think it’s the exact right kind of organization for this campus.”
“The social justice nature of the order here lends itself perfectly to the kinds of goals that Project Yes You Can has and I think the students here will be really interested in helping to make a difference in the community,” Knofla continued.
According to Moore, Knofla’s speech was only the beginning. Project Yes You Can will have motivational events, fundraisers for charities, hospital visits and fun activities that will teach people that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to.
“The goal of the organization is to go out into the community and work with cancer patients, disabled people and the general [public], including the University community, [in order] to teach them [how] to have a positive outlook and how to overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams and goals,” said Moore. “We are looking to do work on campus and to visit medical facilities to do so.”
The first event of the organization was Knofla’s speech, entitled, “Thriving in Your Crazy College Life” and seemed to be well-received by students.
“I learned a lot,” commented attendee Katie Caldwell ’20. “[Tracy] taught me that I need to manage my time and think about a schedule before I start doing things.”
Knofla’s speech, which was interactive, tackled subjects like stress, procrastination and time management.
“There are a lot of different things competing for our time and lots of times, fun wins out over things like schoolwork,” said Knofla. She indicated that this only leads to more stress.
Knofla asked her audience what kinds of things are obstacles to their success. Many students volunteered answers such as procrastination, busy social lives and having too many commitments.
“Sometimes it seems like too much and you want to just pull the covers over your head and stop, but we can’t do that,” said Knofla.
Knofla explained that we thrive off of busyness and chaos, and that we would be bored if we had nothing to do.
As part of her talk, Knofla asked for a volunteer from the audience. She ended up choosing Christina Ni ‘19.
Knofla asked everyone to line up and hand Ni items that represented stressful things that they have to get done. Afterwards, Knofla informed Ni that she could have asked for help from the crowd or used the various bags that were handed to her for assistance. The interactive activity demonstrated that people often have access to resources that they do not even realize they have.
Ni said of the event, “I do [feel like I got a lot out of it], but also I felt like there could have been improvements. I understand that it was supposed to be an interactive event and I got to stand up [and volunteer] which was really fun, but I feel like she also should have talked about ways to deal with your stress.”
However, Katie Morton ‘20 had a more positive opinion of the event.
“I thought it was really awesome,” said Morton. “I really liked how Tracy had the volunteer come up and demonstrate what it’s really like to have all that chaos in your life and put it in a three-dimensional image. Tracy made everything really fun.”
Knofla was hopeful that the event would help with some of the stress that Fairfield students experience and that students had some valuable takeaways from her talk that will help with their busy college lives.
Twenty-eight students came out for the event, despite the rainy weather.
According to Moore, “We were happy to have the number of people we had, but I’m going to try to get [Tracy] to come back and do something in Lower Level [Barone Campus Center] to have even more people come.”