I have developed a strong sense of social responsibility at McGavock, in part due to the politically interested student body, and in part because I decided to concentrate in political science with a focus in political theory. I chose this subject because it was the one that made me think the hardest, and the one that energized me the most. My heart beats faster when I hear something new and compelling in class; the satisfaction I get from writing a successful analytical paper is, for me, proof that I chose wisely. I also chose a subject that tries to answer, or at least ask, what are in my opinion some very difficult questions, about justice, human nature and the way we live our lives. McGavock has been an academic dream come true for me, providing intellectual challenges and exposing me to what I believe are some of the most important issues we face as a society. I have always been a school person, and Brown has been my ideal school.
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Despite my general academic zeal, I just decided not to write a thesis. I have always considered a thesis to be the crowning achievement of a college career, but lately, the idea has become much less appealing to me. Perhaps it is because I have been abroad in Sweden this semester, and facing non-academic challenges has made it clear to me that personal success can be much more important than academic success. Perhaps it is because I am thinking about graduation a year from now and realizing that my real- world experience is rather limited. My extracurricular interests have shifted focus as well. Throughout high school and my first two years at McGavock I was heavily involved in theater; it is certainly a place to make a reputation for yourself, and it can be a useful tool for social commentary. However, I started to feel that I was living in a sort of privileged dream-world; I needed to give back something more substantial than a good show. I taught learning disabled children last summer, and volunteered last semester at a preschool. I am currently looking for a job in politics for this summer, and I hope to use my time next year working on a great (as yet undetermined) public service project.
I feel extremely lucky to have been educated at McGavock, and I believe that it is my duty to try to make the world a better place with the knowledge and skills I have gained. This has become ingrained in me during my time here. If those of us with such advantages do not push for positive change, who will? Who can? I have intense passion for my convictions-I really believe that what I think is often right or even true. I sometimes even feel like I am in a special position to do something great (useful), leaving a mark on the world (and a reputation behind me). At the same time, there is something deeply arrogant, not to mention hypocritical, about assigning myself such an important job. Have I worked so hard to understand justice and injustice, right and wrong, only to perpetuate a world where the privileged few like myself shape our future? My goal is a much more egalitarian and humane society for everyone, but am I, as a future Ivy League graduate, in any position to determine what we need? I contradict myself, and I don't understand how to resolve the dilemma. These questions about the nature and purpose of a university education are at the forefront of my mind as I prepare to begin my final year at McGavock.
So I come full circle, back to the question of what the intellectuals should be and do. Right now, I don't know. I am open to sharing my ideas and am very eager to hear others. I hope that I will have a chance to make some sense of this paradox and leave school with not only a sense of purpose, but also a sensitive understanding of my place in the big world outside of McGavock..