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Kristan Venegas

Author Information

Dr. Kristan Venegas is a Professor of Clinical Education and a Research Associate in the Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis at Rossier. She is an expert in the areas of college preparation and planning, higher education, financial aid policy and college advising.

The Thursday Pop: Reading Dolly Parton and Derek Blasberg

Over the break, I read Dolly Parton’s book Dream More. I am so enamored with Dolly Parton (she’s right up there with Cher and Lisa Lisa for me). I like the way that she presents herself; I’ve read a few other books about her life. Did you know that she has an honorary doctorate in Arts and Letters from the University of Tennessee? I didn’t but I’m not surprised that they gave her that honor. Her work with developing the arts and libraries within her home state of Tennessee is one of her greatest legacies. (She’s an accomplished song writer, too.) I really respect what she has been able to do in her life, especially given her beginnings in the Smokey Mountains.

I also read Derek Blasberg’s follow up to Classy entitled Very Classy. It’s basically a modern day manners book for young women. It gives advice on appropriate behavior at work and dinner parties, how many tattoos one might choose to get and what that might say about you, and how to set a table. Besides the sarcasm throughout the book, my favorite part was the end, in which there are a few pages of basic cultural references that every classy woman should know. For example, “classy” girl has read The Great Gatsby.

Dolly’s book is meant to be inspirational, Derek’s book is meant to be transformational. The books offer things to be learned by a first-generation college student like me and I learned a lot from each of them.

While Dolly’s book was not meant to be systematic, Derek’s totally was. At first I was like, I wish that there was more attention to being systematic about things related to making financial aid decisions.

But then I realized that making those decisions is no longer framed within the “sacrifice that you need to make to get ahead” as Dolly might put it, or the simple “[literally] pay your dues” as Derek might frame it.

Dolly would not have let college costs stop her, because she has such passion for her dreams. You can say the same about Derek and his desire to build a fashion career, the man held a truly memorable dinner for serious industry insiders (think Vogue) in his residence hall dining facility.

Now paying for college in the US is seen as some kind of mortal affliction. How did it get that way? What happened to passion? Is it still there and we just don’t hear about it?

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