Deming presents Last Lecture on the importance of resilience


Kinsley Alley

Associate Professor of Sociology Michelle Deming speaks on resilience at the Spring 2021 Last Lecture event.

Michelle Deming, assistant professor of sociology, was the speaker for The Last Lecture series on March 15. Her speech, entitled “Resilience” was held at Rice Auditorium and live-streamed via Zoom.

The Last Lecture is an opportunity for students to hear from their professors on subjects unrelated to their normal course materials. The speaker is supposed to present as though they are lecturing for their final time, creating conversations on deeper topics.

Deming spoke to the audience on the role of resilience in her life and career in academia. Attending community college at the age of 24 after working in retail, Deming spoke of the transitions she experienced and the need to reinvent her life.

After two years at community college, Deming transferred to the University of North Carolina where she received her degree in Psychology. She eventually transitioned to the University of South Carolina to focus on Public Sociology and received her doctorate in 2017. She also mentioned how she learned resilience by working several jobs to put herself through school.

Deming began her speech defining what Resilience is and what it is not. She defines resilience as being a journey of self-discovery and learning to accept change and helping others. She also defined it as choosing your close circle of people to rely on and maintain self-care.

Deming challenged notions of perfection and urged students to question what they consider perfection to be. She also spoke on how, during her journey though academia, she came to the conclusion that the determinants of success and failure are independent of other peoples’ standards.

Overall, Deming wanted students to realize that resilience is something present within everyone and can be shown in more ways than most may think.

“My journey is a hard story for me to tell. I hope students were able to see what resilience may look like and that there is strength in defining their own path in life. They may also already be resilient in ways they may not have considered,” Deming said.

Sophomore Brooklyn Lamberd attended the Last Lecture and offered her takeaways from the speech.

“It was inspiring to me when she was talking about the importance of not worrying about fitting in,” Lamberd said.

During her speech, Deming mentioned how she had never fit in growing up and how not fitting in forced her to find herself.

“I don’t compare myself to anyone else because I am not like anyone else,” Deming said during her speech.

The Last Lecture series, hosted by the Student Activity Council, is held twice a year. With the help of student opinion, faculty members are chosen to speak and share their advice with the Baker University community.