The New Academic Year 2007-2008
Advice to a Young Person Starting College
Oh, mercy! Have the years brought wisdom with the wrinkles for me to dare offer advice to the young?
Could relating my first day at The University of Chicago weeping with my weeping parents—who lived less than an hour away by car for gosh sakes!—touch an emotion that would resonate with anyone else?
Could my sophomore epiphany that I was undergoing some Mobius strip kind of turning inward and then outward help anyone else who might be aware that they, too, were undergoing some kind of metamorphosis?
Could my joy in my third year that I could concentrate on my major and not have to struggle any longer with Aristotle or readings in The People Shall Judge help those who are equally eager to get on with the business of becoming USEFUL?
As a transfer student, I had been mitigated from The History of Western Civilization.
What a crime.
So, after I got my Ph.D. in Biochemistry and as a young mom, I audited William McNeill’s Art History course. Oh, and as a graduate student, I took a Life Drawing course from Harold Hayden because I missed that part of me that I had been denying in my race to the finish line.
And, I remember staring at the dapper Saul Bellow in the corner drugstore and at Norman Maclean as he trudged by my house while I was clearing the snow, and hearing Milton Friedman lecture, and lunching with a Nobel laureate in chemistry as he conversed with my toddler.
Although I have great respect for my first encyclopedic Biochemistry text by West & Todd, my favorite book that I keep returning to as an adult is To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.
Is it any wonder?#
Bonnie Kaiser, Ph.D., is Director of the Precollege Program at Rockefeller University.