Anna Baker '14
Greetings! My name is Anna and I’m from Orange County, California. I was raised by a Russian eccentric, Tolkien-obsessed professor, and our two smelly dogs; Yasha and Sasha. My journey to Reed was not terribly romantic but the result was still life- changing.
In high school I needed to be the best. I wanted to be the best actress, the top student, and the leader of the student body. I practiced monologues for hours, perfected the seams on my home- made dresses, did all the extra credit, I wanted to be the fastest runner, the healthiest eater, and the nicest. I needed to be the top and I didn’t know why. When I came to Reed by chance I began to see the difference between being the best and having passion. Living under Reed’s reigning principle of learning for the sake of learning, I acknowledged my robotic intentions in high school and began to evolve my priorities toward investing, caring, learning, and loving.
The summer after my freshman year, I went backpacking in Europe with a friend from high school. While we were wandering the streets, eating gelato and meeting other romantic college travelers, I bumped into the seed of my academic passions. Staring at a Bonnard painting in the Musee d’orsay, it occurred to me that art is the purest, most human form of representation and understanding of life. I felt the hunger begin, the insatiable need to know everything I could! When I came back to Reed, I quickly changed my schedule and signed up for Intro Art History. Since then, I haven’t stopped falling in love with art. I became involved with Reed Arts Week (RAW), I’m beginning an internship at a local contemporary art center in Portland, and in the fall, I studied at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.
Instead of striving to be some perfect form I imagined for myself, Reed taught and continues to teach me the importance of passion and investment in ones pursuits. With each semester I spend here I deepen and expand my passions in way that does not conform to my previous conceptions of success.If you’re interested in Art, Art History, Anthropology, Theatre, Global studies, or Study Abroad please email me! I would love to share more stories and experiences about my Reed and academic adventures.
Stephanie Bastek '13
When I was a wee lass, my first dream was to be a paleontologist. I could tell a brachiosaurus from a brontosaurus, rattled off every period of the Mesozoic era with ease, and held first-rate certification in digging mud pits. Then it struck me that in Maryland, land of my youth, it was a little bit more difficult than in other places to go hunting for dinosaur bones. So I did what any enterprising third-grader in a safari hat would do: I dried my eyes and declared myself an archaeologist. The next year, inspired by a book, I switched to astrophysics and started reading up on dark matter.
Twelve years later, I’m a junior English major whose passions for fiction and cooking has led to a few too many nights spent indulging one or both of those. In my sunlit room in Sellwood, there’s nary a dinosaur bone nor a physics textbook in sight. So how did I get here, you may ask, simmering cream for a crème anglaise with Paradise Lost propped up against the oven?
I fell in love with Reed after stumbling upon Loren Pope’s Forty Colleges That Change Lives. It was the first description I read and at first I thought it was fiction. A school where art history and physic majors alike run a nuclear reactor? Where students crack jokes about the Oresteia after a Saturday spent weed-wacking in an on-campus wildlife refuge? Where a cement statue of Reed’s iconic owl is fought over like Helen of Troy? This wasn’t college; this was Narnia.
It took me a long time to make it to the promised land. The first time I set foot on campus was actually the first day of freshman orientation. I had visited so many schools during my junior and senior years and disliked every one of them that I knew if Reed wasn’t right for me, nothing would be. It was love at first read, and it’s stayed that way ever since.
Not only do I have friends from every major, but I’m also in classes with people from every major. For my creative writing class, I just wrote a story structured around concepts from freshman year physics. My friends are using tricks they learned in the chemistry lab to spherify liquids for the eleven-course tasting menus we host in a Reed apartment. And I thank my lucky stars every time a classics major can translate a line in Latin in my literature courses.
I have my fingers in a lot of pies here—I edit the Creative Review, cook for the student supper club /uncommons/, train horses, and spent last semester dallying away la nuit in the streets of Paris—so if you have any questions about those, please ask! I’m also more than happy to talk about actual pie. Though I might redirect you to the Ladies’ Pie Society (yes, that’s a student-funded organization) for those.
Wendell Britt '14
Identities are weird things, and the crazy juggling act that we all do to keep them straight is equally as mystifying. As a Senior Chinese major from Wichita, Kansas now living in Portland, I am painfully aware of the importance of diversity and life experiences plays out in a collegiate setting. I am interested in all various and sundry things including but not limited to Star Wars, playing the ukulele, jazz (performance and appreciation), Blues dancing, storytelling, Ultimate Frisbee, and the way people interact and utilize technology in their daily lives.
Truth be told I have only a tenuous grasp of the crazy circumstances that lead me to end up at Reed. What I can tell you is that being at Reed is the single greatest and simultaneously disruptive decision I have made in my life. My initial game plan was to attend a large state school at least 2 states away from Kansas. Back in high school I wasn’t the type of person to put stock into playing the college game. This game being the meticulous and dogmatic pursuit of grades for the purpose of getting into a prestigious university and as a result becoming the inheritor of the American Dream(tm). The high school i attended excelled in cranking out students of this particular mindset. I only excelled in school due to my love of learning. If there was a subject I was interested in, wild dogs couldn’t stop me from doing as well as I could. If I was turned off of a subject It was a long uphill battle for me to be able to perform well. Because of this mindset I pursued a wide variety of extra-curriculars in an attempt to keep myself engaged during high school. Thus disillusioned, I saw college only as a way to continue my extra-curricular interests and find out something to do with my life.
I got an email from reed in the fall of 2008 asking for me to visit the college and I thought to myself “Well...I’ve never been to Portland before.” I decided to take them up on their offer. What I found was an academic wonderland that I couldn’t have thought up in my wildest dreams. Everyone there was passionate and excited about their studies and their studies to them were just that,THEIR studies. The work that people were doing at Reed rang true of a certain type of academic ownership that I’d never seen anywhere before. Not only were these people excited about learning, they were excited about everything. Never before had I the opportunity or good fortune to be able to stay up till 3 am talking about Star Wars or the Iliad. Three years later This excitement and wonder that I feel about Reed hasn’t faded (though it has matured a great bit).
Hit me up if you have questions about.... being a person of color on campus, navigating the spiritual life in a hyper liberal environment (christian kid from Kansas), student activities (signated 6-7 clubs), music, residence life (Housing advisor for 2 years), working and living off campus, studying abroad.
“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”
Jacob Canter '14
If you have navigated to this website, and spent the time to scroll down to my bio, then I do not need to convince you to take the college process seriously. You clearly appreciate that this is an important decision that may affect your life in substantial ways. Furthermore, you probably realize that this is a competitive process, and being as prepared and well equipped as possible is a good idea.
I tell you this because I applied for this job as an admissions intern to let you know (yes, you—the one who looks like the person I just described above) that this can be one of the most gratifying experiences imaginable. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed or stressed by the college application process—I know many of my friends and I felt this way. If you do, I want to be the admissions intern that makes you laugh, that makes you feel comfortable here, and that makes you feel like you can gain a tremendous amount from this experience, even before you know what your admissions letter reveals. Every time you visit a college, or every time you sit down to write about who you are, or why you would fit in at some school, you have a chance to discover something about yourself, and that experience can be one of the most profound and important imaginable.
If you have any questions, or if you wanna know what I’m talking about, send me an email.
Heather Hambley '14
I arrived upon Reed’s threshold from a small, religious high school in the Willamette Valley. My path here was surprisingly direct, given that my post-high school dream was to go to New York. My father, hesitant to send me across the country for a minimum of four years, took me on a tour of colleges in the area. After stepping on Reed’s campus and witnessing a slice of the fervor and devotion that felt almost palpable, all plans for a plane ticket straight to NYC became only a fleeting memory.
I didn’t come to Reed with specific academic passions so much as an open heart and mind, both of which have been filled over the course of my past two years at Reed. I took a Latin class my freshmen year on a whim, fell head over heels with relative clauses right into Classics, and have never looked back. The various avenues through which I’ve been able to engage with Latin over the past two years is a testimony to this community’s remarkable ability to let you do what you love. I’ve translated works from Cicero, Virgil, and now Ovid; I’ve created Latinized nomenclatures for various types of Reed students as a project for the Director of Community Safety, Gary ‘the Grange’ Granger; I’ve tutored Latin for the DoJo (Reed’s incredible tutoring center); and I will be working in a high school Latin classroom in the spring. One thing I love about Reed is the way that you’re invited, even required, to get creative with what you love. And another thing I love about Reed is the way that you don’t have to do that alone. In the midst of the whirlwind of responsibilities and enterprises, I have been grounded and sustained by home-cooked meals with my roommate, honest relationships with my professors, the mentorship of my managers. Also, step aerobics.
Sharon Heichman '13
I grew up in a small Gold Rush town in the most politically conservative county in California. Thus, given the rather limited resources of my high school’s college counseling office, Reed was not even on my radar until the beginning of my senior year. A friend of mine had relatives who lived close by Reed and told me that there was this college that I absolutely needed to look into. A few days later—somewhat serendipitously—my mother happened to stumble upon Reed’s blurb. As the two of us read a little more about the college, we could not believe how perfect the fit seemed to be. Call it what you will (I call it a sign), but off to Portland we went!
An immediate sense of excitement and happiness washed over me from the moment I set foot on campus. The day was sunny and bright (a little unusual for Portland, it must be admitted) and I just couldn’t believe how enthusiastic and friendly everyone was.
My visit happened to fall on the night before the first-year students had to turn in their first Humanities 110 paper. My host had decided to bring me to her friend’s dorm so that I could meet more current students; when we arrived, the common room was abuzz with academic fervor and frenzied typing. Here were the last-minute workers, those who had formulated the ideas for their papers but had few actual words to their pages with only twenty-four hours left before they would be due in their conference leader’s mailbox. Everyone provided as much help as they could to their fellow writers, and the environment seemed extremely conducive to cooperative productivity. I was so impressed by how academically energized all of the freshman were, despite the stress of the rapidly approaching deadline, that I almost wished I could have joined them in their writing party!
To this day, the cooperative academic environment is one of my favorite things about Reed. I have friends from many majors, most different from my own, and I find that we are constantly doing our homework together. Despite the fact that most of us aren’t in any of the same classes, we always find little ways to help each other out in areas where we have our own strengths.
Now for a little about me: I am a psychology major who is taking required pre-med classes as I am hoping to matriculate to medical school after I graduate from Reed. I also spend my time working with the Theatre Department, tutoring other students in Introductory Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology, teaching local elementary school students from a supplementary science curriculum, and volunteering with local hospitals and clinics.
If you have any questions for me about any of my specific interests or involvements or about anything else you can possibly think of, please feel free to drop me an email! I’d love to chat with you.
Allie Hemmings '14
Hi! My name is Allie Hemmings. I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa to a British-Portuguese couple. We moved to a rural part of New Jersey when I was just a baby, and then to a suburban oasis outside of the great American metropolis of Houston, Texas when I was 10. Given the varied cultural identities I have inherited, I experienced both the joys and frustrations of self-realization in the face of diverse and often conflicting traditions. Joy: family Christmases with English Christmas crackers, Portuguese Bolo Rei (Epiphany cake) in the Texas sunshine. Frustration: So explain to me again where you are from? Creating a unique blended culture and sense of identity has been a constant adventure for me, one that I continue to engage in here at Reed.
As a high school student I was always greedy for more. I wanted to learn more, travel more, think more, be more. Even as a child I had an insatiable appetite for the world around me, and read voraciously earning the nickname of “The Woodchipper” from my parents. Reed has both satisfied and whetted my appetite for learning. I chose to go to college at Reed because I wanted to immerse myself in the life of the mind and challenge myself to become a better-educated, more thoughtful person. Reed has been even more than I expected: not only have I grown intellectually, I have created friendships I am certain will last me a lifetime, challenged my assumptions about the world, and engaged with activities that fulfill me. At Reed I have received more than an education, I have received a crucial and valuable piece of my identity: I am a Reedie.
Texas cowboy boots, Portland coffee, British high tea, Portuguese warmth and vivacity, southern hospitality, Reed curiosity and passion: all these things and much more are a part of who I am, and who I have become since coming to Reed. I study economics, and signate the Reed College Mock Trial Team, work as House Advisor in the Mad Science theme dorm (long live liquid nitrogen ice cream, long live science!) and I have a slew of hobbies (knitting, needlepointing, dancing, bad pop music singing). I am planning on attending law school after Reed, and becoming a trial attorney. I would love to talk to you about Reed, and your specific interests here. I love Reed, and I love sharing that love with others. Please drop me a line!
John Iselin '14
I am a NYC boy, born and raised in Brooklyn. The life I had on the east coast, in the middle of such a huge city, was fast paced and energetic, which has set the tone for most of my life so far. The decision to shift over to the west coast was perceived by some of my compatriots as an odd one, but I have not found that Reed College has slowed me down at all. In fact, I have found in this school a venue for my energy, allowing me to channel it in multiple ways. I can work on shaping the culture on campus through Queer Alliance, trying to grow and expand what is already a thriving community, or I can focus on my duties as a senator, working with students, faculty, and staff to shape and direct Reed College and continue a grand tradition of student involvement in the governance of the college. I have found in those groups a place for me to work and think and argue, all with the goal of making this community a better place. And with Reed College comes Portland, with its massive array of opportunities in food (oh don’t even get me started) and entertainment of all kinds. Most importantly, it has allowed me to do all of that while reminding me that the primary goal of the institution is academic growth.
I have found that through both the political science and economics departments I have found a fantastic group of students and professors that I can work and argue with about the critical issues shaping our world. One political science professor of mine, Alexander Montgomery (who is at this moment directing nuclear policy for the Pentagon), had his class play croquet to simulate the competitive international system, and the students where able to organize their teams and actions based on what mechanism they though would get the best result. One group became a democracy, voting on every swing of the mallet, while others became hyper-aggressive, claiming that victory required offensive action. I also was given the opportunity to go to West Point for a conference on the International Political System, and worked with cadets and students from around the country on the issues of Trade, Globalization, and the US Foreign Economy. I was able to represent Reed, and found that the classes I had taken up to that point had more than prepared me to go toe to toe with the best and brightest out there. I am always willing and excited to talk with students who are interested in political science and economics, who are queer in whatever form, or who believe strongly in the value of an energized and involved student body.
Martha Janicki '14
I grew up at the crossroads of my American surrounding and my Polish upbringing, the child of a single-father engineer who had escaped his country’s communism with my mom in 1987 (surprise! It ended only two years later). I was born in Toronto, where I learned a lot of French. At ten, we moved to Houston where my friends were rodeo-goers and barbeque-ers.
My dad made sure to save enough money so that every winter we could travel to Poland to visit my small family (no cousins for me) and so that in the summers he could ship me off to a variety of summer camps there, where I would try to pretend that I really lived in Poland (until the other kids figured out that my stories didn’t match up). Every trip to Poland also meant that we would stop somewhere else on the way – Italy, Palestine, Israel, Spain, Germany, etc. – so that my dad could fulfill his childhood dream of traveling and so that I could begin to form one too. I began to experience two contrasting lives – one in the suburbs of Houston, with the diversity and comfort of living that it offered, and the other in the countries to which we traveled, where everything was smaller and closer but gave me new perspectives on aesthetics, architecture, and lifestyles.
The magnet high school to which I went was geared towards driven students who were on the right path to becoming doctors. But their path was not one that I wanted to take – I never looked at my grades on tests, I didn’t have a specific career path chosen, and, though I got along with everyone, my interests and personality never seemed to fit in with those around me. I discovered Reed through an English teacher who had always dreamed of coming here but ended up in another school during her years of younghood.. I listened to her advice – I distinctly remember reading through Reed’s Admissions Intern short bios (oh hey!) and falling for their kookiness and personality. I was smitten and soon I became the kid who carried the Reed view book around in my backpack so that I could fill in the gaps of my image of Reed (that’s common, right?). Here I am, still the Economics nerd and still interested in cultures and languages and the diversity of the human experience (Human Planet is still a favorite). If you have any questions about any of those things, student senate, languages at Reed, summer internships or travels abroad (I studied abroad for a whole lovely year in Paris), shoot me an email; I’d be happy to talk.
Alan Montecillo '13
If you ask me where I’m from, I’ll often start with “um...” and a confused look on my face. I was born in New York to Filipino parents, but when I was five we moved to Hong Kong, where I attended an international school for thirteen years. I grew up as part of an elite social class of foreigners whose lives were permeated with luxury, travel, and fancy internships. It was a fantastic life, and I’m very thankful for it. But a byproduct of my upbringing is that I’ve never had a “home” in the traditional sense of the word.
I originally came to Reed for the rigorous academics, but I was deathly worried that I was doomed to live as a foreigner again. On paper, I didn’t seem to fit “Reed culture”. But this wonderful place has surprised me, time after time – and all of my fears, misconceptions, and expectations seem like a distant memory. I came to Reed expecting to major in English, History, or Political Science. Instead, I fell in love with studying the culture I grew up with but never truly got to know – Chinese. I didn’t think I’d ever enjoy life in America, but I’ve learned to embrace living here in Portland (ask me for restaurant recommendations!). And I was afraid that my Christian faith would wither and die in the land of “Communism, Atheism, Free Love”, but it has actually been deepened and nurtured in amazing ways.
During my freshman convocation, the then-student body president offered one major piece of advice: make Reed your own. Two years ago, I would tell you that I came to Reed because of reasons A, B, and C – bullet points and observations that I gleaned from the viewbook or my campus visit. While all of those things are still true, I would now say that there’s only one reason why I’m here: Reed is my home right now. This is the community I want to love, serve, and be a part of.
Why? Well, to say that coming to Reed was the best decision of my life seems a little strange (not to mention incredibly cheesy), because I have no idea what the other paths would have looked like. But what I can tell you is that I always want to grow and get better. I want to be more compassionate, more intelligent, more understanding. To that end, Reed inspires and challenges me to grow every day, and has changed my life in ways that I don’t even think I fully realize yet. That, in short, is why this is home.
When I’m not studying Chinese literature, working at the Admission office, or talking about myself too much, I’m singing in the a cappella group or working as a leader in Oh For Christ’s Sake, the Christian student organization. I’m also a House Advisor in Sullivan Hall, where I try to promote and facilitate community in the dorm. After college, I hope to pursue a career in journalism, education, or not-for-profit work in developing countries.
That’s the big picture of my Reed story so far, but there’s a lot that won’t fit in this box. Want to know more? I’m one of those people who checks his email every five minutes, so feel free to contact me at any time about anything.
I started out as a small child. The sole offspring of a single parent household, I spent my days in the yard slaying dragons, fighting pirates and honing my Jedi skills. I attended a small Christian school for the first nine years of my education. It would prove fundamental to my existence. The summers found me visiting the various corners of the earth where I gained a deep appreciation for education and the blessings and opportunities it bestows.
High school was great. I joined the rowing team, played video games with my friends and occasionally worked on my Jedi skills when my mom forgot to but the broom away. I took an English Literature class which was conducted as a conference. I fell in love with the style and the challenge of engaging texts directly. It was also in high school that I learned I was what some people called a “minority.” The distinction puzzled me.
Reed was an obvious fit, wooing me with its class structure and “learning for the sake of learning” attitude. I met my first Atheist and was bewildered. I’ve come to cherish diversity as a different means of expressing the love people have for each other. If I’m not doing something awesome for class I’ll be playing rugby, reading a swashbuckling adventure novel or (secretly) honing my Jedi skills in my fencing class.
Laura Muco '13
When I first heard of Reed, I was at the Groton School, a small boarding school outside of Boston. I loved my school for its small classes, its quirky traditions, and the friendships I developed with my teachers and classmates. This intimacy is one of the things that drew me to Groton and eventually to Reed, too. I also needed to move to somewhere new. I had never lived anywhere for longer than four years in my life, and I have been on the east coast on and off for 8 years. I was itching for something new and it was time to make the jump to the other coast. I wanted a new environment, new people, and new challenges…so I came out west!
All of my life I have been a sort of nomad. It is a strange situation to be in when you’re a kid but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I was born in Bujumbura, Burundi but left during the civil war. We first went to Brussels, Belgium, where we had family and then Fayetteville, Arkansas where my dad was working on his PhD. After he graduated, we moved to Austin, Texas where I acquired a passionate love for tex-mex food and country music. From there we moved to Rye, NY, right outside of New York City in Westchester county, and then finally back to Austin.
Austin is my chosen home, it is an amazing city to live and play in. I think it has completely earned its title as the live music capital of the world--there is never a dull moment. Having said this, boarding school was the right decision for me. I feel like I really needed the structure that it offered so I could figure out what was important to me; something we’re always figuring out! I think coming to Reed was another step towards that end. I wanted a place where I would be encouraged to explore my diverse and varied academic and social interests and where I would be given the skills and tools to do so successfully.
Robert Shryock '13
I grew up in Holland, Michigan. It is a town of 34,000 with 170 churches, a town famous mainly for its tulip festival, and a town where 90% of the high school graduates went to a state school in Michigan. As I approached my senior year in high school, I knew that I wouldn’t be happy doing what all my classmates were doing. I also knew I wouldn’t be happy just going to an ivy league school or some other prestigious east coast school just because that’s what I felt like I should do—I wanted someplace different, even if it meant that I would spend the rest of my Christmases at home being asked if Reed was a community college.
I visited a lot of places, but when I visited Reed, I felt for the first time like I really wanted to go somewhere. But as the time approached to actually attend college, I became worried that I wouldn’t fit in at Reed. Would I, a weirdo from the Midwest, really be able to fit in with the generic arty coastals that I imagined to be the population of Reed?
The answer was given to me on my first day at school, and turned out to be a definitive yes. I went to the dorm meeting at five pm with my roommate, and was surprised to see that Reedies were not as I imagined them. They were from places as near as Bend, Oregon, and as far away as Dhaka, Bangledesh. They were all enthusiastic, kind, and brilliant, and not a single one of them was wearing black.
In high school, I often felt that people didn’t really like me for who I was, but that they instead liked me because I was funny, or because I was simply there and tolerable. I often felt that I had to hide certain things from people in order to make them like me. I could only share that I was a writer with the arty kids, that I liked to cook with my non-bro friends, and that I played tabletop science fiction strategy games with the people who played those games. I had to be a different person in all those situations. But at Reed, I could be who I wanted all the time, and was never judged for it. I can write fiction (or manifestos about anti-Islamic prejudice in our society), roast my own coffee, and play hours of Dominion, and be the same person in all of these activities. My friends here like me as a whole person, not just as a writer-person or a board games-person, but as myself. And that’s the great thing about Reed: people love you for who you are, and you never need to be embarrassed about being you.
So if you have questions about fitting in at Reed, (not) fitting in at high school, coming to Reed from the Midwest, religious studies, or coffee roasting, drop me an email. It’d be great to get to know you.
Finn Terdal '13
Discourse is my favorite activity. Discourse is the means by which we, as a group, come to understand the world around us and our place within it. Discourse is as necessary for human knowledge as are synapses for a brain’s cognition. Discourse is the mutually beneficial exchange of information between two or more minds, each of which would starve without it.
While discourse is my favorite activity, sophistry is my greatest fear. Sophistry is a tainted and diseased mockery of true discourse. Sophistry is that infection whereby one party is convinced of some claim, not by virtue of its own content, but instead by empty words arranged so as to give the illusion of fullness.
Just to state the obvious, I’m a philosophy major. I became acquainted with philosophy through my participation in high school debate. In constructing an argument for a debate case, it was often necessary to read philosophical texts, and a debater who was unfamiliar with Locke or Mill would not last long. Debate was incredibly fun. There’s just no thrill like waiting outside of a room before the debate begins, sizing up one’s opponent(s), chatting casually before battle. But a battle it was, and there could only be one victor. Debate is an unavoidably confrontational activity, and there is no room for compromise.
After a time, my growing aptitude for debate became worrisome. Many judges apparently found me convincing, but for what reason? I would occasionally find myself making arguments that were convincing to judges, but not to me. Either I was mistakenly unconvinced by these arguments, or the judges were mistakenly convinced by them. If the former, then my ability to evaluate even my own arguments was flawed (a cause for worry). If the latter, then I was the source of a sophistry infection (a cause for panic).
This concern spread beyond my role as a debater. The same problem began to arise among my interactions with peers, where we were each other’s judge. Neither my own faculties nor those of my peers could be completely trusted. (Cue the skeptic). Could I ignore the possibility that my peers and I were both mistakenly convinced by some incorrect argument? How many of my certain beliefs were infected and which ones?
Sometimes it’s best not to respond to the skeptic. I decided that the best remedy would be to attempt to improve my own faculties, and to seek peers with faculties better than my own. Fortunately, these two goals have proven to be mutually reinforcing. At Reed, I have encountered peers who are experts at discourse. I have been proven wrong by these peers more times than I can count. There are many reasons to love Reed. This is one of them.
Send me an email. Start some discourse.
Elisabeth Thomas '13
Two years ago, on the red couch in the dorm common room, I took my first derivative. I like to look back on this moment and deliberately remember it, for it was unexpected. The word “unexpected” has come to describe my relationship with Reed College quite fittingly. As a home-schooled high school student who quit doing my disastrously difficult algebra homework in 10th grade and instead focused on perfecting my talents in art and music, I never expected that I would now be in my third year of studying physics at one of the most challenging, top-rate schools in the country.
My journey to Reed began when I was taking an English class at a local community college during my junior year of high school. In that class, I wrote a research paper on a topic that I knew absolutely nothing about – the Chernobyl disaster. While I was researching, I found the schematics of the nuclear reactors to be quite interesting, and consequently discovered nuclear physics. It was then that I decided to become a physics major. Over the course of the year, I found out that the mysterious field of physics required an understanding of math, and forced myself to learn algebra over winter break.
At the end of the summer before senior year, I googled the sentence “colleges with a nuclear reactor,” and Reed was the first result. After a long year of worrying about my application and wondering if I would be accepted, I finally received my email that told me I was a freshman of the class of ’13.
Today, after my potentially foolish and incredibly risky decision to become a physics major, I am in love with both my major and the school where I chose to study. I have accomplished one of my main goals in coming to Reed: to become a reactor operator. I have finally learned calculus and have made a few circuits start smoking during lab. That, so far, is a small bit of my unexpected experience with Reed College.
It should be known that I’m an awesome person to talk to if you’re coming to Reed as a home-schooler. I also know a fair amount about physics, Reed in general, the Pacific Northwest (I grew up here), and the love of my life – reactor. I love to talk with people about Reed, so please email me if you have any questions!