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Making a Difference with Jane Goodall

By ARIELLE BREEN, Guest Writer

Dr. Goodall smiles after a student asks her if she wouldn't mind having her brain donated to science. At a Q&A before the keynote speech with 100 selected students. Photo by Arielle Breen.

More than 4,700 people came to listen to famed British anthropologist Jane Goodall in the packed and sold out event at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena. Goodall paid a visit to Mt. Pleasant on March 28 to present her “Making a Difference: An Evening With Dr. Jane Goodall” speech. This visit was the first on her 2012 spring U.S. tour.

Before her keynote speech, Goodall met with 100 select students to answer questions.

One of the selected students was cultural anthropology major Chloe Peck. Peck, 20, a CMU sophomore, explained, “(Goodall) dared us to be kind, be ambitious, (and) to be aware of everything and everyone.”

During the question and answer segment, Goodall pointed out the importance of thanking your representatives and politicians when they do something you appreciate.

“Try to thank them. We blame but we don’t thank, and I think the thanks can make a lot of difference,” Goodall said.

CMU assistant professor of cultural anthropology, Laura L. Cochrane, was also in attendance.

“I enjoyed the way she interacted with students, and encouraged them to follow their own passions to change the world in small ways,” Cochrane said. “She invited us all to think about how we should put our ideas into action.”

Bryan Ptak, a Mid Michigan Community College (MMCC) zoology student, talked about the effect Goodall had on attendees.

“There was a clear message that every individual in attendance possessed the potential and ability to make a difference in our world,” Ptak said.

Goodall's speech brought over 4,700 people from all over and filled McGuirk Arena. Photo by Arielle Breen.

Goodall, who is known for her discovery of chimpanzee tool-making and their diet as omnivores, received a standing ovation after her speech, while some attendees cried tears of joy.

MMCC biology instructor Jennifer Mertz stayed after the keynote speech for the book signing.

“We stayed and purchased books and waited in the very long line for her to sign our books! Students commented that she is such a well-spoken and inspirational speaker. I liked her motivational comments about spreading your wings and striving for a bit beyond your reach in case you fall short,” Mertz said.

Goodall also told about the Roots and Shoots program, which brings together youth to tackle the many problems with the environment, animals and people. The program allows the students to choose which problems to try to solve, and also how to solve them. She informed attendees of the importance of their impact.

“We have a choice, what sort of impact we’re going to make,” Goodall said.

To find out more:
About Dr. Jane Goodall: http://www.janegoodall.org/
Reasons for Hope: http://www.janegoodall.org/janes-reasons-hope
Roots and Shoots: http://www.janegoodall.org/programs/youth

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