I’m Michelle Callaghan, a first-year graduate student at Villanova University. This is the first post of ‘Cat in the Stacks.’ I’m the ‘cat.’ Falvey Memorial Library is the stacks. I’ll be posting about living that scholarly life, from research to study habits to embracing your inner-geek, and how the library community might aid you in all of it.
“Teach thy tongue to say ‘I do not know,’ and thou shalt progress.” -Maimonides
I had some time to kill before the graduate student orientation this past Sunday, and found myself in the Connelly Center. So there I was, stealthily eavesdropping on a first-year student-athlete in Holy Grounds while I bribed my phone to connect to the mobile WiFi on campus for the first time. I couldn’t stop listening to this conversation about what foods to eat before practice and when to do homework between workouts—not because of the oh-so-gripping content of the conversation but because of the bravery of the first-year student. She was unashamed, unabashed. She asked questions and she got answers. She found valuable resources in her upperclassmen teammates and, by taking advantage of that, wasted no time in finding her footing.
Because of her willingness to ask questions, she could focus on more important first-year matters and relax.
As a newbie in the Villanova world, Anonymous Student-Athlete inspired me. She has me thinking, too, about the importance of asking questions. It’s not always easy, but it can be learned, and it is probably the most invaluable tool you can learn in college—for research, especially, but also for life.
I’m no Maimonides, but here are my top three realizations about asking questions:
1) When a fellow human offers their guidance, they typically do want you to take advantage of it.
… and Falvey Memorial Library is staffed by incredibly kind, incredibly smart librarians who want to help you.
2) Asking questions in class, or asking questions of your support system, is smart.
… and the sillier your question feels, the more important it is. The basics are your base. Make them concrete right away by reaching out with questions, and then you can start building on your real goal. Plus, by formulating a question, you’re bettering your understanding of whatever you’re asking.
3) Asking questions lets you inhabit other people’s brains, and that’s where magic happens.
… that magic being mind control. Mua-ha-ha—just kidding. Sharing perspectives, whether it be the best place to get pizza in Ardmore (Jules Thin Crust!) or whether chaos is the natural state of the universe, is the one of the most exciting aspects of being part of a scholarly community like Villanova University.
I didn’t ask anyone how to log into mobile WiFi. I could have asked any one of the hundreds of students I’d been passing all afternoon, but instead I wasted time with a basic question. Lesson learned.
Here’s to you, Anonymous Student-Athlete. Cheers!
Article by Michelle Callaghan, graduate assistant on the Communication and Service Promotion team. She is currently pursuing her MA in English at Villanova University.