Barbara Eaton (4th Quarter, 2007)

4th Quarter, 2007
Communications Scholarship Winner
Barbara Eaton

So at 49 years old I’m considered a non-traditional student. (Doesn’t that sound much nicer than “an old Grammy”?) I have been married for 29 years and my husband and I have to wonderful children. My Daughter, who is 28 years old has been married to a great guy for 8 years and we have our first precious grand-daughter, Hannah Grace who is 2 1/2. My son is 27 and still looking for the right girl!

A Portion of Barbara’s Winning Essay:

Barbara Eaton
Barbara Eaton

We live in a ‘high-speed’,’ instant’, ‘got to have it now era.’ Never has a generation been more “connected” with the rest of the world through technology and yet isolated from the physical touch and the healthy emotional connection of one to one conversation as today’s generations. I want to re-introduce the importance of memory making, creating life-long legacies and the need and responsibility to pass on from generation to generation, our values, our feelings, opinions and the impact and contributions people have made to those around them in simply ‘living’.

There have always been generation gaps since the beginning of time and most have been considered ‘healthy’ as a child grows through adolescence to an adult. But many of today’s ‘gaps’ are anything but healthy. Children today are on the computers and cell phones so much earlier in life. Text messaging and e-mail have taken the place of getting together to simply talk. I fear that the ability to carry on a conversation is getting lost. To be able to read body language, to hear emotion in verbal tones or to sense truth (or the lack of it) in someone else’s eyes are all becoming a lost art.

So what about the folks that are 55 and older? A large percentage of these people didn’t have computer classes and consider many of today’s electronics too difficult to learn. So how can they compete with text messaging and e-mail when they don’t know how to use it? And how will today’s young people learn from the older, wiser generations when their communication tool of choice is a cell phone or a computer?

One of the customs I most admire in the Chinese and Japanese cultures (and wished was as important in our own) is the respect and honor given to their elders. The older you get the more valuable you become. The wisdom that can only be gained by experience is valued and preserved through the older generations and it is taught at a very early age. I fear that many of our young people are being seduced into believing that life…is all about “ME!” There seems to be a lot of “This is my life and I will do as I please!” It seems that everybody wants to talk, but no one wants to listen. How many times do we sit beside someone on a plane or a bus and sense the invisible walls keeping us out? There are invisible signs that are prominently hung “You may sit beside me, but don’t bug me” or “What I’m doing is more important than who you are.”

And what ever happened to common courtesy when in a public place? It used to be that two people could be walking side by side or sitting in a restaurant carrying on a conversation and you didn’t know what they were talking about. They kept the volume down so as to keep it private and not to bother those around them. These days, rather in a waiting room, public restroom or library you are barraged with all these voices with the volume knobs on “high” describing the personal events of the night before or an argument riddled with expletives! Rather driving a car or pushing a grocery cart, these “inconsiderates” are not paying full attention to what they are doing and should be considered armed and dangerous as far as the rest of the world is concerned!

I believe the true art of communication is getting lost. The new meaning of multi-tasking is being able to check your messages, up-load the latest photos from your cell to your PC, balance the check book and pay bills, text messages, request the latest hits by The Eagles…all at the same time from your cell while driving to your next appointment…all without having to actually talk to anybody!!!!!!

I can remember when I was a child sitting down at the breakfast table and listening to my Dad and Uncle Ralph talk about life while they were boys. There was something so incredibly interesting about the stories they would share…I didn’t care how many times they repeated them! I am so glad that my son inherited the same curiosity. His grandfather is still alive and my son is 28 and he still looks forward to the times that my Dad gets in the mood for story telling.

Several years ago I asked my father to write a letter to me about how he remembered things, how he felt about life while watching me grow. He asked why and I told him that after he passed on I would have that letter to reflect and reminisce and serve as a reminder of his thoughts and feelings. It will definitely get me through those tough times when I’d get to missing him.

One of the most common responses I have heard when asking the old folks what their greatest regret is…is the regret of not spending more time with the ones they loved. I don’t think that it is a coincidence. I believe that it is vital to not only tell how you feel about your loved ones…but to hear it coming from them as well. I want to do something about that. Everyone has a story to tell and I want to give people an opportunity to share theirs…not just on paper…but on film as well. When completed, the author can do with it whatever he chooses i.e. show it at the next family gathering, at their funeral or to simply pass on to their children and their children’s children.

At 49 years old, I feel like I’m bridging the gap between the young and the old as I have had many conversations with both. I owned and operated my own beauty salon for the past 30 years and during that time I received the greatest education in regards to people…one on one. Because of job related health issues, I reluctantly retired from my profession.

The first 3 years I spent searching for the answers as to how I would spend the second half of my life. (To describe the chain of events that got me here would take more time than this assignment would allow.) But the important thing is…I now know and I am so excited I can’t wait to get started.

New England School of Communications is where I am going to receive the training I need to put this plan into a reality. My concentration will be Digital Media including Photography, Photo Restoration and Journalism. I have applied for this scholarship because financing has become the greatest challenge for me. Our personal finances and credit took major hits because of my illness. I am finally on Social Security Disability Insurance but while waiting for it my husband had to file bankruptcy on his new construction business, both of our vehicles were repossessed and we were forced to sell our home (of 30 years) for what we owed. My disability insurance is only $600.00 a month and only goes so far. I want to get back into the work force and start a business designed to help people write and tell their stories for future generations to come. Thank you for your consideration.

After exploring the field of Music Journalism, my next goal is to continue as an educator in this discipline. Having been raised by two educators on the campus of a college, I have grown up with a deep respect for, and intimate understanding of, the academic world. India is a country with a vibrant press and active democracy, with highly competent, enthusiastic youngsters who find more and more opportunities in this sphere of human endeavor. This trend represents great potential and great need. Equipped with academic credentials and experience in the press, I hope to contribute to this area of need. I have always regarded teaching as my vocation, and reaching my career and academic goals will take me closer to fulfilling this calling. The role an educator plays in the molding of young professionals is a world-changing one.

Copyright 2007, All rights reserved.

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