Hilltop on the Hill, 2013 Inauguration

Twenty-one communication studies and journalism students are in Washington, D.C., in January 2013 as part of the Meadows School of the Arts’ Hilltop on the Hill program. In addition to reporting on Inaugural events, the students will visit media and government sites, and meet with political communicators, journalists and SMU alumni. The trip is led by Rita Kirk, professor of communication studies; Daniel Schill, assistant professor of communication studies, and Carolyn Barta, journalism professor. Endowed by the Bauer Foundation, the Hilltop on the Hill program also takes students studying political communication to political party conventions and the G8 Economic Summit.

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A sense of legacy

An update from Mary-Ashley, a junior communication studies major:

Savannah and Mary-Ashley at the National Cathedral

Over the course of this Hilltop on the Hill trip to our nation’s capital for the presidential inauguration, I have been struck by the reality of my place in the grand scheme of history.

Upon entering the National Cathedral and remembering the past presidents who walked up the same aisle as I did, I gained a measure of perspective about how important humans are capable of being. Yet, no matter how significant they were and continue to be, their lives couldn’t last forever. No matter what great feats these men accomplished, they only existed on this Earth for a short time, yet their legacies will never go away.

As I studied the photographs in an exhibition about presidents visiting the cathedral, I felt a connection to these men that I never have before. I believe it was something about being in the nation’s capital that made me feel united with past and present leaders of this country.

As morbid as it might seem, the reality of my own mortality and the mortality of the most famous men in history made me see that in many ways we are all the same. We all want to make a positive influence in our country and to do good things for our societies. Even though it sounds depressing, one day we are here in this world and the next we are not. Our time on this Earth is so short, but our legacy could stand the test of time. The question is – what are we going to do that will be worth remembering?

Professor Rita Kirk (left) with students at the National Cathedral

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