Inquiry and Impact: The University of Chicago College

It’s a fearless place and a courageous place,
a place in which it’s mandated to have strong convictions, but also to have evidence
to back up those convictions. We argue, and then we go get a pizza. What comes out of that can be a complete change of both of our perspectives. How to think, and also how to
communicate those ideas in a very clear way: those skills started to develop in the College
through the Common Core. What’s special about the College is that is surprises you almost every day. I always thought I knew exactly who I wanted to be, and then coming here that
has changed in every way possible– but in a good way. The Core Curriculum at Chicago
is a symbol of who we are. Our mission is to get very talented students and to put them
through a program of systematic, interdisciplinary training, and then four years later to graduate
Chicago intellectuals. The Core requires students to get outside of their comfort zone, and then they find that they’re passionate about something they didn’t know existed, so it’s really a transformative experience. You get really comfortable asking the tough questions,
and you learn that debate and challenge is good. You go to a seminar; sometimes the question
period goes as long as the seminar itself. Rigorous inquiry, the power of questioning,
you feel that in every classroom of this campus. The faculty at the University of Chicago have
an unending curiosity and an unbelievable drive to look at some of the hardest issues
that face us. Faculty provide research opportunities, internship opportunities, and experiences for students that go beyond their field of expertise. This is a place dedicated to open inquiry, and open inquiry does not happen if you have already decided in advance who gets to ask the questions. We want to make the education of the University of Chicago available to many more students coming from underprivileged families. I can’t imagine where I would be if I didn’t have financial aid. For people like me who are from first
generation families, are from poorer communities, the Odyssey scholarship is allowing me to
live so that I can focus on my academics. A lot of people ask, you know, “What is the
typical UChicago student?” And I honestly don’t think there is one, because the school is so diverse. I think the thing that really intertwines us all is a desire to learn. I think people are very inclusive here because they often march to their own drummer, a different drummer, and that comes together in some kind of band. The biggest traditions
that the University of Chicago is known for… Oh, there are a lot. Block parties on the
Quad; humans versus zombies; Scavenger Hunt, when students solve riddles and build contraptions… I did broomball; Kuvia celebrates the cold hardiness of being here, although it’s really
hard to get up at 6 AM. I’m in a lot of student organizations. I just joined MEDLIFE; we educate the community and ourselves about health needs. The Institute of Politics, I’ve been very
involved since orientation week. They bring in big names, they have seminars weekly. No matter where your interests lie, you always have an opportunity to build upon who you want to be. The University does a great job compelling us to meet people that aren’t like us. I think that’s really the goal of the Housing system. It’s very eclectic, very competitive, people get really tight-knit with their house community. We’re very close. The University of Chicago is of course located in one of the greatest cities in the world. We go downtown, see the city, see the people. I think it really adds something to how we approach our own studies. Some of the activity occurs in a classroom, but it’s very important to get
the students out into the city, into the countryside. Going abroad kind of expands your life, whether
that be how you respond to discussions in your next sosc class to how you respond to
a discussion at a dinner table. Students have many opportunities to develop their interests here in ways that will help further their career career when they get their degree. For my Metcalf internship, I’ll be going abroad to a third world country to follow how a global health project works. My main work is with a charter school opening up on the very far South Side of Chicago. It’s really opened my eyes to education in Chicago. My internships were so valuable because it helped me to formulate what my interests were. If I look back, everything
in my life came out of the time I spent at Chicago. The University prepared me for handling complex issues because the work we were doing as students was complex. What the place has done is enable thousands and thousands of individuals to have an impact because of the kind of thinking we encourage and the courage we encourage in their lives. The University has transformed my life. It gave me the intellectual tools to go out into the world and to do the things that I could do– with courage. As I look in the faces of the kids who come up
on the platform in June of every year, I’m sure that they will make a fundamentally important
contribution in their professional lives; I also hope that in times of crisis, that there’s one person in the room– that person happens to be a graduate of the University of Chicago– would say like “Okay, wait a minute, let’s work through the evidence.” When you are part of the University of Chicago community, you’re in a community of ideas that have the power to change the world for the better. The College has led me to reanalyze
the narrative I have of myself. There’s a lot of big questions we all have to answer
about what we want to do, and I think all of them are very much driven by a desire to leave some kind of impact. We all have a concern about leaving the world a better place than we found it. There is no better way to do it than to engage and give to the University of Chicago, because what our past vividly demonstrates and our future will undoubtedly show is ongoing transformation in a way that you can get nowhere else.

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