By Diana Zhu
DAVIS – On Sept. 28, UC Davis First-Year Aggie Connections (FYAC) welcomed back Hoan Do – inspirational speaker, author and city finalist on NBC’s hit show “American Ninja Warrior” – for the third year to motivate incoming UC Davis students in the event “Succeeding in College with American Ninja Warrior” as a part of the annual Davisfest.
In compliance with current COVID-19 pandemic guidelines, the event was held over a Zoom conference with over 200 guests in attendance.
The event was high energy, interactive and offered insight to help motivate students.
Throughout the event, participating students won merchandise from Do, including copies of Do’s book, a “That is Whack” T-shirt and a chance to win Amazon gift cards to those who participated in the post-event survey.
Do started off by asking attendants to write in the Zoom chat box about how they felt as they began the school year, and most of the replies revolved around feeling anxious.
Do said feeling positive is easier said than done, and it is more important to have an honest attitude. Students should acknowledge how they feel (instead of ignoring it), gain perspective (by being open to other perspectives and gaining more insight), decide what they want and take action to move forward.
Do used the analogy of listening to music and grooving to one song, but then a bad song came on, and he would immediately change the song playing.
He compared this to if he was having a good time, then something bad came along, and he would also change the situation.
Do emphasized that there are two things that matter about what someone does after they recognize something negatively impacting their attitude: How they react to it and what they decide to do.
Do encouraged participants to feel the power in being a little silly to allow the mind to move on.
When confronted with bad situations, instead of feeling down, he asked selected audience members to say out loud, “Hold up, that’s whack because I eat problems for breakfast! And I said ‘Hold up, that is whack, because the bigger the setback, the bigger the come back!’”
Do continued to speak about the importance of having mentors, peers and mentees, then handed the stage over to Jennifer Paredes, a fourth-year human development major, who spoke on being a mentee in her first-year connection group and now is a peer mentor herself.
Paredes touched on how the connection she had made built valuable friendships, and networking had helped her stay at UC Davis.
She continued to speak about the many resources offered by FYAC.
She explained that students are able to fill out a form where they can make connections based on their interests – the more specific the interest, the more specific the connection.
Paredes thanked everyone and handed the stage back to Do.
Do signed off by plugging his social media and his website ThatisWhack.com.
Do ended by holding two $1 bills, and while folding the bills, he said, “Make sure your goals are specific to have a meaningful purpose and have multiple strategies to achieve them and make meaningful connections. You realize that life is a team sport. Your ability to have a successful first year at UC Davis will increase five, ten, or-” and in an instant, the bill he was holding turned into a $100 bill, “100 fold.”
As Do left with high energy, the stage was then handed to Rachel Bingham, the staff coordinator of the Transitional and Enrichment Programs and Services of FYAC, who said, “New UC Davis freshman and transfer students, including international students are mentored within small communities formed around a common purpose, shared interest or theme, to provide support as they transition and navigate their first year.”
She continued, “Through weekly meetings held with staff/faculty leading 25 students or less, FYAC brings peer mentors and students a chance to meet new people, explore campus resources and get involved.”