Liberal Arts Statement
When I consider the effects of my liberal arts education, the
funniest thing happens. A line from Clement C. Moore's "A Visit
From St. Nicholas" comes immediately to mind: "(I) Tore open the
shutters and threw up the sash." This vivid visual is a perfect
metaphor for my own awakening, not from a "long winter's nap" but
from a sheltered, rural upbringing to the vast, exciting,
surprising world beyond - the physical world, of course, but even
more exhilarating, the world of ideas. The world of concepts and
theories. The world of the creative and the scientific mind. And
once I caught a glimpse, I wanted to see the whole landscape.
Indeed, I wanted to be right in the middle of it.
This awakening to the virtually infinite possibilities humans
have explored and continue to explore started before college, when
my beloved high school English teacher chaperoned a student group
on a summer study program at Christchurch College, Oxford. It was
my first plane trip, to the English city where my father had been
stationed in World War II. But it was more like a rocket to the
moon (on which humankind first stepped foot the summer I was at
Oxford). Architecture, anthropology, literature, history, political
science, music all took on new meanings. Homesick in my first weeks
there, I became so enamored with my new world I didn't want to go
back home. It made the lament, ""How ya gonna keep 'em down on the
farm, after they've seen Paree?" especially relevant to me.
Always curious and an avid reader, I found my liberal arts
education encouraged and directed that curiosity and gave me
refined and myriad ways to pursue it. When I selected journalism as
my second major (in addition to English), I instantly related to
the five Ws and an H (who, what, when, where, why and how) of
Journalism 101. Those were the questions I wanted to answer not
just for my readers, but for myself, too.
Throughout my career and my personal life, the variety of
disciplines and the wealth of information I explored and garnered
as an undergraduate have benefitted me in countless ways. Using
history to illustrate a point in an executive speech I was writing,
appreciating a piece I heard in a concert hall, recognizing an
architectural feature on a European vacation, understanding the
psychology behind a colleague's viewpoint - all these, and so much
more, came from the foundation of a sound liberal arts education.
An education that will, I hope, never cease to widen my view and
whet my curiosity.