Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, I haven't had the opportunity to write a Thanksgiving post due to traveling back to Tennessee this week, but I do want to share my Thanksgiving post from last year with you. Some of you have already read the story, but for those of you who didn't follow my blog when I first started it exactly a year ago, you can read my first blog post here:
I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Men Are In Trouble

     (CNN) -- For the first time in history, women are better educated, more ambitious and arguably more successful than men.
     Now, society has rightly celebrated the ascension of one sex. We said, "You go girl," and they went. We celebrate the ascension of women but what will we do about what appears to be the very real decline of the other sex?
     The data does not bode well for men. In 1970, men earned 60% of all college degrees. In 1980, the figure fell to 50%, by 2006 it was 43%. Women now surpass men in college degrees by almost three to two. Women's earnings grew 44% in real dollars from 1970 to 2007, compared with 6% growth for men.
     In 1950, 5% of men at the prime working age were unemployed. As of last year, 20% were not working, the highest ever recorded. Men still maintain a majority of the highest paid and most powerful occupations, but women are catching them and will soon be passing them if this trend continues.
     The warning signs for men stretch far beyond their wallets. Men are more distant from a family or their children then they have ever been. The out-of-wedlock birthrate is more than 40% in America. In 1960, only 11% of children in the U.S. lived apart from their fathers. In 2010, that share had risen to 27%. Men are also less religious than ever before. According to Gallup polling, 39% of men reported attending church regularly in 2010, compared to 47% of women.
     If you don't believe the numbers, just ask young women about men today. You will find them talking about prolonged adolescence and men who refuse to grow up. I've heard too many young women asking, "Where are the decent single men?" There is a maturity deficit among men out there, and men are falling behind.
     This decline in founding virtues -- work, marriage, and religion -- has caught the eye of social commentators from all corners. In her seminal article, "The End of Men," Hanna Rosin unearthed the unprecedented role reversal that is taking place today. "Man has been the dominant sex since, well, the dawn of mankind. But for the first time in human history, that is changing—and with shocking speed," writes Rosin. The changes in modern labor -- from backs to brains -- have catapulted women to the top of the work force, leaving men in their dust.
     Man's response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?
     So what's wrong? Increasingly, the messages to boys about what it means to be a man are confusing. The machismo of the street gang calls out with a swagger. Video games, television and music offer dubious lessons to boys who have been abandoned by their fathers. Some coaches and drill sergeants bark, "What kind of man are you?" but don't explain.
     Movies are filled with stories of men who refuse to grow up and refuse to take responsibility in relationships. Men, some obsessed with sex, treat women as toys to be discarded when things get complicated. Through all these different and conflicting signals, our boys must decipher what it means to be a man, and for many of them it is harder to figure out.
     For boys to become men, they need to be guided through advice, habit, instruction, example and correction. It is true in all ages. Someone once characterized the two essential questions Plato posed as: Who teaches the children, and what do we teach them? Each generation of men and women have an obligation to teach the younger males (and females of course) coming behind them. William Wordsworth said, "What we have loved, others will love, and we will teach them how." When they fail in that obligation, trouble surely follows.
     We need to respond to this culture that sends confusing signals to young men, a culture that is agnostic about what it wants men to be, with a clear and achievable notion of manhood.
     The Founding Fathers believed, and the evidence still shows, that industriousness, marriage and religion are a very important basis for male empowerment and achievement. We may need to say to a number of our twenty-something men, "Get off the video games five hours a day, get yourself together, get a challenging job and get married." It's time for men to man up.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Tomorrow night I leave for Tennessee to attend my first post-graduation Homecoming. It is sure to be a busy and fun-filled weekend with friends and family. As some of you know, I'll be crowning the 2011 University of Tennessee Miss Homecoming as my final duty as last year's Miss Homecoming. I absolutely love Homecoming and am really looking forward to all of the festivities! 

Looking back, I can certainly promise you I never thought in a million years I would go from this:
Brittany and I before our first football game as students.
to this:
Dad and I on the field last year.
in just four (and a half) years.

A lot of people have been asking me over the past few weeks:
What is Miss Homecoming?
How does it work?

As defined by All Campus Events (the student organization that organizes homecoming), Miss Homecoming should be "a senior woman who possesses poise, leadership skills, loyalty, strong character, and most of all true "Volunteer Spirit." She will be one who the students, administrators, and peers will be proud to have representing them as the emblem of the University of Tennessee and all for which it stands."

- Any registered student organization at the university is able to nominate one senior woman for Miss Homecoming.
- The nomination process consists of a nomination statement from the organization, two self-written statements from the candidate, and additional information about the woman's involvement both on and off campus.
- The nomination packet is followed by two rounds of interviews conducted by university administrators. The first round is a group interview (3-4 women). After the first round, the candidates are narrowed down to the Top 10. The second round is an individual interview (which, by the way, was by far the hardest, most intense interview of my life). The candidates are then narrowed down to the Top 5.
- Throughout Homecoming week, the Top 5 candidates participate in a number of different events to promote voting. However, no individual campaigning is allowed.
- The Top 5 candidates are then voted on by the student body through an online system and the winner is announced at halftime.

This weekend I'll be in the annual homecoming parade on Friday night and will then crown Miss Homecoming 2011 at halftime. Five amazing ladies are nominated this year and I'm so excited for all of them! Best of luck to all of you. You've all been great representatives of our university! 

With that, I'll leave you with one of my self-written statements from my nomination packet. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and 

Tennessee has always been my home. Though I considered many different colleges, I followed my heart to the University of Tennessee. The fear of becoming a "number" at a large institution deterred many of my friends from attending Tennessee. However, my love for my home state and home university wouldn't let me go anywhere else.
The opportunities I have had over the past four years have cultivated a greater love for our university and for the state of Tennessee than I could have ever imagined. Now, as I look back on my four years as a Volunteer, I realize this University has changed my life. My experience at UT as a member of some of the most rewarding organizations on campus has allowed me to meet amazing people, enjoy my education, and make a difference at a university where so many worried they would become a "number."
Enlightened by my experiences, I hope my love for our university has shone brightly to my family, friends and fellow Volunteers during my time at UT. No matter where life takes me when I graduate, I will be forever grateful to this university.
While I have been highly involved in campus life and have tried to live the true "Volunteer Spirit," being chosen to represent my university as Miss Homecoming 2010 would be one of the highest honors I could imagine. I am humbled by this nomination. Thank you for this consideration.