Great power comes in small packages – actually, in six words…

Amanda Griffin, M.Ed. – Trainer, Professional Development

According to the book Not What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Authors Famous and Obscure, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story using only six words.  He wrote, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” The unspoken heaviness of this “short story” provoked a flood of personal reflections and emotions as I pondered the magnitude of what seemed so small.

The six-word global phenomenon began in November 2006 by Larry Smith, founder of SMITH Magazine. He launched Six-Word Memoirs as an online challenge asking: “Can you tell your life story in six words?” Sixwordmemoirs.com features over 1 million life stories and counting. Some are bittersweet: “Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends.” Others are piercing: “I still make coffee for two.” Some are celebratory: “From migrant worker to NASA astronaut,” and some are simply hilarious: “Married by Elvis, divorced by Friday.” Smith has since taken his six-word model into boardrooms, classrooms, staff retreats, and conferences.

So, you ask…what does this have to do with me?

At LSC-University Park, we have our own six-word story that perfectly sums up GradUP: “You commit. We commit. You graduate.”

Our story aligns with our Cultural Beliefs and Faculty Qualities of Excellence to exhibit our dedication to student achievement. As part of the UP family, we challenge you to create your own six-word story related to student success. Think about why you do what you do. How are you part of the big picture of graduating 50% of our first-time in college students? For example, my story is “Every student graduates – whatever it takes!”  In six words Mary Harmon reminds us, “Struggles today develop strength for tomorrow.”  Your six-word story should reflect your commitment to student success and remind you of your why.

Six words can help you gain a wealth of knowledge about your students and build a community of lifelong learners. You can use your six-word story to introduce your mission to the students you encounter and have students create their own. Six-word memoirs give students a safe way to share a small piece of who they are and what matters to them.  Start by sharing yours.

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