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A Life Changing Experience: Foundations of Liberty (FOL)

From a recent CNY912 newsletter article, a 9/12 group in Upstate New York.

Tina Giblin is devoted wife, mother, grandmother and concerned citizen.  She is an extension student of Monticello College and is active in local politics. She resides in Syracuse, New York.

For the past year and a half, many members of our CNY912 group and other 912 groups across this state and others have been taking a class titled Foundations of Liberty.
The class is as it is titled, a study of the foundations that started this great country and the liberties that the founding Fathers intended. It has been a life changing experience in so many ways!
The problem in writing this article was not in coming up with the ways that this class has changed my life but in limiting how many of those experiences I could fit into one article and of figuring out which one was the most life altering.
In order to attend this class, we had to do a lot of reading outside of the physical classes, which were daylong classes that took place very other month. Our CNY912 group decided to start a weekly book club to discuss the readings.
When starting this class, little did I know how important those weekly book club meetings would become to me.
For our classes, we have read the initial Charters of each of the original thirteen states and studied the reasons behind the writing of the Declaration.
In studying the biographies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, we learned of the personal sacrifices each man made in order to serve their country.
We have read the original writings of the founders leading up to the Constitution and also the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers, which debated whether or not a stronger ‘national’ government or remaining independent was best for the States.
We have studied, discussed and debated the original rules governing who could vote and whether or not allowing almost everyone to vote, is a better. Now that was a lively debate!
One of the greatest gifts that I have received from this class, is a better understanding of my own religion (Catholicism) and a much stronger conviction in what I believe and why; I now know the history behind my Church – why it was founded, how it was founded, where it went wrong and where it stands today.

Yes, even religion was on the table in these classes and I am so glad that it was!
Lastly and most importantly I learned about the necessity of building relationships with ‘like minded’ people.
A year-and-a-half ago, I had really good friends within this group; today, I have family within our group.
One of the unexpected side effects to all this spending time together studying, sharing, debating and working together (or quite possibly it was intended by Dr. Brooks) is the trust and caring you come to have for people you have shared so much with.
In our study group and classes, you lay your heart on the table to reveal what you believe in, what it is that really makes you tick… and somewhere along the way, if you are lucky, as I was, you find yourself.
You find your vocation, what you were called for, and then the world opens up in a whole new way to you. For me, this has been the greatest gift of all. It has changed my life!
I know I can go out on a limb to try to change things, to try to make a difference, and I know I am not alone. If I need support, I have only to turn around and see my friends…. my family… and I know they will support me in whatever I do.
I cannot end this article without saying a little about the founder of this class, Dr. Shanon Brooks. Dr. Brooks is a co-founder and president of Monticello College, in Utah. He is the kind of teacher/mentor that we all strive to be.
His is not one to simply stand in front of the classroom and ‘lecture’ you. He makes you think, extracting thoughts and opinions from your comments.
He insists on you backing your statements with facts. He strives to make you aware of the motives behind your statements and, in doing so, makes you more aware of yourself.
He makes you want to do better, to be better. Early on, he stated that one of the goals of this class was to raise-up leaders.
Dr. Brooks leads you by example, until you can lead others by your example. He is a man of distinction and I have been truly blessed in getting to know him.

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Comments (10)

  • Alix Kowalczyk

    I am honored to be a part of the weekly book club 🙂

    March 27, 2012 at 1:38 pm
    • Shanon Brooks

      You are setting a great example.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:13 am
  • Brandon M

    I have had a similar experience in the Utah FOL class. I have grown and changed my perspective on many things as Dr. Brooks has challenged us. My entire outlook on life has changed along with my circle of friends. It has been a very life changing experience and I look forward to each and every class.

    March 27, 2012 at 6:35 pm
    • Shanon Brooks

      You are the one doing the hard work.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:14 am
    • Jacqueline Mitchell

      My husband and I have been attending the classes when we can. I have noticed that our circle of friends has changed too! I always want to be with people who do things that matter, have a great understanding of Constitutional principles, and those that can have an intellectual stimulating conversation!

      March 29, 2012 at 8:50 pm
      • Jacqueline Mitchell

        …and I just noticed that it was my husband that wrote this post. Ooops!

        March 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm
  • Sil Johnson

    I’m part of the CNY912 bookclub, too, and being part of that and FOL have changed my for the better life as well! THANK YOU, Dr. Brooks for starting us on this journey. I went to see Monumental last night (Kirk Cameron’s movie about HIS journey to understand our American founding) and just about everything he found along the way WE learned through our FOL readings. We are on the right path…..and I believe there will be many more joining us now!

    March 28, 2012 at 6:03 am
    • Shanon Brooks

      I am inspired by the dedication of my students.

      March 28, 2012 at 8:15 am
  • Chris Nichols

    I’m another member of the CNY912 book club – the only virtual member as I Skype in every week. I enthusiastically agree with everything that Tina, Alix and Sil have said – This class has created a family.
    I would also add that participating in this class has been the most rewarding educational experience ever! I find that it has helped me to become a much clearer and deep thinking person and it has given me a whole new perspective on the society we live in, how it came to be and why so many feel that something is wrong. Rather than rely on instincts and feelings, I now have the great writers and thinkers of history to consult and learn from.
    I am NOT the man I was 3 years ago thanks in large part to Dr. Brooks and my Foundations of Liberty family! Thank you, all of you!

    March 28, 2012 at 9:28 pm
  • Jacqueline Mitchell

    I really miss FOL. I have been unavailable the past few meetings. I want to get back into these awesome classes. Can I attend the Layton, Utah one in April?

    March 29, 2012 at 8:48 pm

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