“How is Cal State Northridge … how are you fired up new members of this great community going to help the rest of us redefine normal when it comes to our trash cans?” author Edward Humes asked California State University, Northridge’s largest freshman class at the university’s annual Freshman Convocation.
“Americans: we are a trashy people. … Trash is the biggest thing we make. It’s our leading export,” said Humes, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and the author of “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash.” “Our consumer economy is riddled with and embedded with incentives to be wasteful.”
Humes was the keynote speaker at the annual Freshman Convocation on Thursday, Sept. 12. The convocation is designed to formally welcome first-year students to the university. “Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash,” is this year’s pick for the Freshman Common Reading Program. CSUN’s Freshman Common Reading Program is part of Academic First Year Experiences, which strives to help freshman and transfer students make a successful transition to Cal State Northridge. Activities like the Common Reading Program and the Freshman Convocation provide opportunities to link curricular with non-curricular learning so that first-year students smoothly transition to university life.
Humes speech was based on his book, which follows the journey that trash takes as it makes its way from garbage containers to landfills, sanitation plants and scrap heaps. He said the book does not provide all the answers, but he hopes it stimulates discussion around how we dispose of materials and encourage consumers to re-purpose and reuse trash.
Angela Lara Lomeli ’13 (Child and Adolescent Development), one of CSUN’s 2013 outstanding graduating seniors, served as this year’s student speaker at the event. She reflected on her struggles as the first person in her family to attend college.
“College is a place where if you want or need something, you need to go after it, and please do not be afraid like I was,” said Lomeli, now a graduate student at USC. “It is absolutely OK not to know something. After all, this is a learning institution. Beyond all the circumstances you have faced, insecurities you may have of yourself and what others expect of you, you can do it.”
President Dianne F. Harrison opened the convocation with a welcome to the students. She presented the first Dianne F. Harrison Leadership Award to Madalyne Handy, a sophomore and member of the softball team. President Harrison closed the convocation with a challenge to the students.
“I hope you will find new friends and new mentors who will support your personal growth and academic success,” Harrison said. “I hope this convocation has also nurtured your commitment and desire to succeed and has helped to instill pride within you.”