College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Donna Reynolds

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.