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Reflections of My Days as an Undergrad IWU

Reflections of My Days as an Undergrad IWU

I remember my first day of college. I was nervous and expecting that someone was going to ask me what I was doing there, and then ask me to leave. It was a strange and fearful moment when I realized that as the first person in my family to begin college, the journey had begun and there was no stopping the inertia that had been initiated. There was apprehension and a lot of the unknown staring me in the face.

As vividly as I recall that day, I also recall the trip home on the bus, feeling taller than I had been when I woke up earlier that morning. There was something different about the world, suddenly, I was a college student… and it was at that point where I never looked back, through undergraduate and graduate school that followed.

Many of the lessons that I learned proved to carry me through the rest of my life, and they came from those glorious years of learning and the experiences that I consider to be invaluable. Testing the waters and pushing the limits of my knowledge to new heights while shaping the core values that would serve as the rudder of my life’s journey are the moments and memories that are once again spinning through my mind as I prepare to accept a great honor from my alma mater.

It was at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL, where I discovered an oasis of all things that I loved… standing in front of people and using words and music, to connect with others. I also found academic challenges, a community of sharing, a fraternity of brothers and a place to call home.

As the drum major of the Marching Titans, I had been handed the whistle to lead my fellow marching band members down the gridiron at halftime at football games. I also organized and directed the “pep band” for the basketball games while subtly developing a sense and understanding of leadership along the way. Lesson learned was the discovery of the strength of teamwork, cooperation and learning when working together with others.

As a hopeful singer, it was there, at IWU, that I was first encouraged to study the art and the craft required to make it professionally as a vocalist. Because of the attention shown to me, I found the courage and inspiration to do the hard work that is necessary to find success in singing, or any of the other fields of endeavor that I successfully pursued later in life. The lesson learned was simple, yet very profound, hard work and dedication really do pay off.

It was during my time as an undergraduate that I struggled with my feelings about my country and the war that raged in Viet Nam. Fortunately, I was surrounded by caring and loving professors who understood the struggle of my generation and guided us through the tumultuous times of conflict and our collective search for meaning in life. Lesson learned was to find out how to decipher truth from fiction and how to appreciate history as it happens before our eyes, not after it had already passed.

My heart learned about what I believed to be love and love lost. I also recognized that my passion was brought to the surface, to discover that I am a musician first and everything else second in life. On campus, it was  Parent’s Weekend when I sang “Leaving On a Jet Plane,” as my first professional singing gig. It was then that I overcame the terrifying fear of performing in public, a feeling that was solidified when chosen as the vocalist for the IWU Jazz Band. Lesson learned was confidence. That inner strength directly led to my career as a speaker, singer, broadcaster and entertainer.

There are people I remember too, who were there when just the right words were needed, or to provide a show of recognition for an accomplishment to help me realize that if I believed I could do something, I could usually do it. Lesson learned was that it only requires one voice, your own to succeed.

I have fond memories of the priceless friendships that were formed and the lives that I knew when we were all so young and vibrant who have since been lost. I also recall the pride of accomplishing what I set out to do, namely, become the proud graduate of this fine institution of higher learning.

A number of years ago, I was humbled when receiving a call from the president of the IWU. He informed me that the graduating class of 2003 had requested that I deliver their commencement address. It took me only seconds to accept. It was the pinnacle of my pride as a graduate, or so I thought.

A couple weeks from now, my pride will once again swell to an all-time high as I accept the honor of being chosen as the Illinois Wesleyan University Distinguished Alumnus for 2017 at the Homecoming celebration. This honor will be shared with my fellow classmates and with all those who inspired me to always try to do my best. Using all of the lessons that I learned, I will stand proudly and speak from the heart as a grateful student of life and never forget the greatest lesson that I have ever learned… which is, how to love and to be loved in return.

About Wayne Messmer, CSP

Celebrity, Motivational Speaker, Singer, Broadcaster, Author, Actor

 “They Never Said It Was Going to Be Easy”

Life isn’t easy. We all have our challenges. But what if your entire life as you knew it changed in a split second? What would you do? How would you react? More importantly, how would you overcome and march on?

Wayne Messmer knows all too well how sudden change plays out. In April 1994, a singular event dramatically impacted Wayne Messmer’s life. Nationally recognized as the “Voice of the National Anthem,” Wayne projects his powerful baritone voice from the speaking stage to help others live with eyes open for possibilities and opportunities, no matter the circumstance.

Drawing from a storied career as a certified speaking professional, singer, broadcaster, author, actor, and successful businessman, Messmer delivers a timeless message of resilience, perseverance, adaptability and hope from the stage, blogs, books and music. Travel along the journey of survival, courage and triumph with a master storyteller who combines wit, humor and music to share his step-by-step process to fight for survival and overcome adversity while facing fear head-on. Watch Video. Book Now.

Don’t Let “Family Time” Be the Ball that Drops This Fall

Don’t Let “Family Time” Be the Ball that Drops This Fall

Fall is approaching. For many, it means a new season of schedules for the kids that either intertwine or conflict with school, sleep, meals, work and family life. If you find yourself lamenting each evening about how tired you and the kids are at the end of a long day, it very well could be that your family is struggling because you are out of balance with work, school, healthy foods, exercise and the countless scheduled activities.

Trying to keep my own calendar straight is a challenge, and I often speak with individuals who are trying to get a handle on their world before it spins out of control. Trying to juggle the various schedules of everyone under the same roof can seem almost impossible, unless a few simple tips and tricks are applied to bring some order to life and stop the insanity

Here are some thoughts to jump start a healthy family calendar that I’ve seen work very well for friends and family.

1. Schedule “Family Night.”
This is the first step towards a solution. The idea is simple and best of all, it can create memories to last a lifetime. It might be movie night, take-out night (think pizza or Chinese, for example), board game night, or family walk night. Be creative to pick an activity that earns the consensus of the entire crew. Personally, Cubs games, Wolves games and concerts in the park are a few of my favorite things. The important part is that a night each week is designated just for “together time.” The days of the conversation at the dinner table have sadly gone, so time needs be set aside to catch up with each other. If we learn how to relax…and talk with each other, you might be very surprised by the things you can learn from your kids on your special night.

2. Enjoy time with your child’s friends.
No kidding. You don’t always have to be the coolest house on the block. However, letting kids “hang out” at your place will give you valuable insight into your own child’s interests and motivations. A bonus is the ability to understand the “crowd” with whom he or she associates. For younger children, time spent with a friend offers actual learning lessons and experiences such as sharing, responsibility, taking turns, and countless others. Many child development social experts point out that good, old-fashioned free time for playing and social interaction can be better for a child’s development than an overload of too many organized or structured activities.

3. Let your child choose his/her own interests.Too many well-meaning parents sign their kids up for activities that offer no interest to their child. Conflicts and power struggles are sure to occur as a result. All too often we see cases where a child begs to sign up for activities, or is encouraged to do something of no interest and then wants to quit. This can be caused by a number of issues that take the fun out of the activity… yet, allows for another chance to communicate. Try to aim for an activity where you find your child self-motivated to participate. If he or she needs to be begged, bribed or scolded to get ready, then perhaps, it isn’t the right fit. Many cues, verbal and non-verbal, will indicate levels of interest, dedication and enjoyment.

4. Consider the time commitment when making scheduling decisions.
Activities often emphasize multiple practices, time and travel requirements. As the parent, considering one particular activity over another allows room for more family quality time. There is always a cost to every new commitment. Ask yourself, does being involved with this activity hinder or promote our higher family goal of quality time?

5. Determine your child’s commitment as well.
If your kid says an activity “might” be fun, avoid committing to a full season or year. Not only could it present a problem for your child if he/she doesn’t like it, but will infringe on the other players/members participating in the activity; not to mention the family’s commitment. Many teams rely on a certain number of players or kids to form a group. A last-minute pull-out could cause an impact on everyone else. If you’re not sure, consider signing your child up for a mini-camp or week-long or short session instead. If your kid loves it, then you can always seek something more in the future.

6. Be the Boss.
If everyone in the family is involved in some type of activity, household chores may be harder to get accomplished, thanks to a lack of time. At the family planning meeting, explain for each activity, everyone will have to pitch in to make sure the clothes still get washed, the dishes get done, and the table gets cleared. The key is set expectations up front and stick to them to avoid mutiny down the road. Should you hear the statement from the troops that, “You’re not the boss of me,” remind them sternly, but fairly, with a smile, that you are.

7. They don’t have to participate in everything.
Try to adjust schedules when needed to accommodate the time required for schoolwork and family time priorities. If your child’s grades start to drop, or you notice that your child is falling asleep at dinner, it is quite possible that you may be asking too much of them. Always keep in mind that despite a bottomless tank of gas and a wealth of energy and enthusiasm, a child’s age, personality, and true interests must be considered when crafting their schedules and commitments.

8. There is no “I” in TEAM.
“A family who prays and plays together, stays together,” is a solid message. The healthiest families are those where parents and children support each other’s activities and interests.

9. Always, family first.
With priorities straight, your chances for a happy, well-adjusted family increase exponentially.

About Wayne Messmer, CSP

“They Never Said It Was Going to Be Easy” – Wayne Messmer

Life isn’t easy. We all have our challenges. But what if your entire life as you knew it changed in a split second? What would you do? How would you react? More importantly, how would you overcome and march on?

Wayne Messmer knows all too well how sudden change plays out. In April 1994, a singular event dramatically impacted Wayne Messmer’s life. Nationally recognized as the “Voice of the National Anthem,” Wayne projects his powerful baritone voice from the speaking stage to help others live with eyes open for possibilities and opportunities, no matter the circumstance.

Drawing from a storied career as a certified speaking professional, singer, broadcaster, author, actor, and successful businessman, Messmer delivers a timeless message of resilience, perseverance, adaptability and hope from the stage, blogs, books and music. Travel along the journey of survival, courage and triumph with a master storyteller who combines wit, humor and music to share his step-by-step process to fight for survival and overcome adversity while facing fear head-on. Watch Video. Book Now.