LMU Speaks 2023: What You Missed

The following post was written by library student assistant Megan Yi.

On February 15, 2023, the William H. Hannon Library held the seventh edition of “LMU Speaks.” LMU Speaks an annual storytelling program that started at the library in 2017. Each year, the library selects at least one student, faculty member, staff member, and administrator to come together and tell a story around a central theme. The theme of this year was “Hitting the Reset: Stories about reclaiming our beginnings, starting over, and all the times that we found ourselves back at square one.” This year’s speakers were Karina Arenas, Tobias Egold, Mia Watson, Tamara Armstrong, and Kevin Wetmore.

Karina Arenas is a senior studio art major with a concentration in printmaking and illustration. She’s an artist deeply inspired by the feminine expression, masculine tendencies, divinity, and raw emotion. Wherever her life and career lead her, she hopes to be a storyteller and an advocate for her community through her work. Karina was raised by a Japanese immigrant and a Chinese American. Karina’s parents sent her and her brother to private schools. In her first year of entering college, she felt lost. And recently, that feeling resurfaced. However, Karina found her purpose in her work at school and meaning in her daily life.

Karina recognizes herself as a visual storyteller. Her goal is to become an advocate and storyteller as a tattoo artist. Although her parents didn’t want her to get tattoos, she believes they are a way for people to liberate themselves through self-expression. Her mission is to help people find their mission through body art. Karina says she is really proud of being an activist and promoting people’s stories through her work.

Our next speaker was Tobias Egold, a senior at LMU studying in biochemistry. He started his presentation by telling us about the clubs and communities he’s participated in at LMU. All of the clubs are a main part of the reason Tobias feels valued and proud. Tobias also discussed his family. Tobias is the oldest brother of three siblings, and he always tries to be a better big brother for them. He was an extremely reserved kid back in middle school, but his life “hit the first reset” in a drama performance where he felt encouraged by strangers for the first time. As a result, Tobias got to know the impact of being encouraged by strangers, so he wanted to be that kind of person. Tobias got a lot of joy by lifting others’ spirits.

After graduating from high school, Tobias was conscripted into the army. However, this is where he hit the second reset of his life. That is, simply encouraging others doesn’t work to bring joy. So, the “reset” this time was for him to be a better leader.

The third and the latest reset for Tobias was when he came to LMU for orientation. When Tobias tried to lead others the way he did in the army, he had to hit the reset again because he realized that being a strong and confident leader doesn’t work in a college community. He noticed that being too affirmative put pressure on others, which is not helpful at all. He realized that he is not the main character in others’ life stories, and that it’s better to listen. Tobias now realizes there will be so many resets throughout the rest of his life, and he is ready for the next one after graduating from LMU.

Our next presenter was Mia Watson, a self-proclaimed “visual artist and sci-fi geek.” She discussed the creative experience of her leadership role in the Academic Resource Center at LMU. At the start of her presentation, Mia said that she was having a really busy week. “It’s like hitting a reset when preparing for this presentation,” she confessed. She also shared that, “as people age, we become less resistant to hitting the reset.” So she told some stories of ways she moved past the resistance to resetting. Mia thinks that “resetting is really about attitude. The right attitude can really help, not only to create a great outcome, but also to help us live a life more fulfilled.” So far, Mia realizes that the failures in our lives are not what we control most of the time. She also realizes that the possibility of facing failure now reminds her of initiating the reset versus being forced to reset.

Our fourth speaker was Tamara Armstrong, vice president for information technology services (ITS) at LMU. Tamara discussed how “adaptability, work ethic, and integrity” have been her foundation to navigate her life’s resets and new beginnings. Tamara began her discussion by connecting the definition of “reset” to her real-life experiences. She told us about her resets by leading us back to her hometown Alabama and her family lineage. Through Tamara’s stories, we got to know how hard she and her family work together and support each other. There have been several resets in Tamara’s life up until now – family, work experience, studying, marriage, and her children. Tamara said she is really grateful for the resets and new beginnings in her life because that brought her to be here today.

Last but not the least, we had Professor Kevin Wetmore as the last presenter for this evening. Kevin believes that we almost have to reset every day. It does not mean that the world around us is reset every day, but it means that the fact is already out there. It is our mind that resets since the world is revealing new things to us that we didn’t know before. Kevin discussed how he keeps hitting the reset as a theater person because he constantly works with different groups of people and each of these groups he considers to be “new families.” He told us about a play he directed called, “She Killed Monsters.” Dr. Wetmore loves this play because it provides “all the feels.” He pointed out that, if you really want to know a person, being with them while they do what they love is the best way.

All five speakers shared valuable experiences in their lives. I was so grateful to be there to hear touching and inspiring stories from different people, from different life backgrounds.