September 21, 2001 11:00 pm
FRESHMAN TIPS: Author Sarah Vowell of New York City speaks to freshman and new incoming students at Eastern Oregon University Friday. (The Observer/DICK MASON).
FRESHMAN TIPS: Author Sarah Vowell of New York City speaks to freshman and new incoming students at Eastern Oregon University Friday. (The Observer/DICK MASON).

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

The terrorist acts of Sept. 11 left author Sarah Vowell of New York City with a feeling of horror and later a moving sense

of vindication about the character of

New Yorkers.

In New York City the people are so nice. I have always told people this, Vowell said Friday at Eastern Oregon University.

She suspects that others did not believe her. Then came the outpouring of support for the victims of the World Trade Towers attacks.

I feel vindicated to say that the people of New York City are nice, Vowell said.

They have a pride of place. The people are together.

Vowell feels so closely tied to the people of New York City that she said it was hard to leave during this time of crisis.

She appeared in La Grande Friday as a speaker for the EOUs new student week orientation program. Vowell is the author of Take the Cannoli, a collection of humorous essays about her life experiences. She is also a contributing editor for National Public Radios This American Life program.

Vowell read from her book and gave students advice about how to succeed in life and college.

Vowell said that it is hard to prepare for a specific career in college. She noted that she earned her degree in French but has not used it during her career.

Successful people dont plan for success. I didnt plan for this. This isnt the job I could have foreseen for myself, she said.

Still, she considers her college experience valuable. She encouraged students to use their time in college to learn how to learn and learn how to think. Vowell also encouraged students to develop writing and speaking abilities. These skills allow people to get jobs, which will provide them with greater job satisfaction.

The people who are the happiest with their jobs are those who have jobs in which they can express themselves, Vowell said.

She also said that its important to find something that you like and are good at.

Sometimes it is hard to find this combination. Vowell gave an example.

I like music but am inept at it. It took me 2 1/2 years (in college) to realize this, Vowell said.

The author joked about her lack of musical ability when someone asked if she still has symphonies she wrote earlier.

Yes, they are at my parents home. That reminds me I should burn them, said Vowell, who had her audience roaring with laughter with comments like this throughout her presentation.

Many in the audience at McKenzie Theatre had read Take the Cannoli, because it was the featured book for EOUs new student week. New students were provided copies of the book earlier this summer and were encouraged to read it prior to EOUs orientation week.

Vowells reputation as a writer has grown to the point where she appeared on NBCs Late Night With Conan OBrien earlier in the week. She mentioned her upcoming visit to Eastern on the program.

Vowells success as a writer has never come easily.

She said that writing is often agonizing. She spends long hours organizing her thoughts. Nothing is worse than writing, Vowell said. Once I know what I want to write then it is fun. It takes a lot of work to get to the fun part.

EOUs largest freshman class ever has orientation adventure

Many of the students who attended the presentation by author Sarah Vowell Friday are part of Eastern Oregon Universitys largest freshman class in history.

EOU has 400 incoming freshmen. EOUs previous high was 366 freshmen a year ago last fall, said Tim Seydel, assistant vice

president for university advancement.

The average grade point average of these students is 3.35. EOU also has 250 incoming transfer students; their average grade point average is 3.65.

Fall term classes begin at Eastern Monday.

EOUs new incoming students have been participating in orientation week activities throughout the week. Many of the activities were part of the EastTrek program. The EastTrek are activities led by EOU faculty and staff.

Through EastTrek students have had a chance to do things such as:

Participate in a three-day backpacking trip in the Wallowas.

Go on a three-day, two-night mountain-biking trip in the Lehman Hot Springs area.

Golf for three days on Eastern Oregon courses.

Visit Portland for three days, seeing the Portland Art Museum, the Chinese Garden, art galleries and much more.

Take a three-day hiking excursion into the Anthony Lakes area.