What’s the most important thing you learned at Lafayette?
Throughout my time at Lafayette, I learned time and time again the importance of building out my personal narrative. We rarely can summarize our lives in a coherent manner. Usually, we have diverse experiences and interests that don’t necessarily fit neatly together. However, having a personal narrative is crucial for standing out in an increasingly competitive professional world. Applying for various awards, fellowships, internships, and scholarships at Lafayette forced me to think deeply about how to present myself and how the opportunities I pursued would help me frame myself. Building out my personal narrative came in real handy when I applied to law schools, and it resulted in some pretty spectacular outcomes.
What one lesson or memory from Lafayette will remain with you for the rest of your life?
One of my most impactful memories at Lafayette took place in Prof. Jeremy Zallen’s class Capitalism in the U.S., 1840-1940. I had drafted a thesis statement for my paper and brought it to him for feedback. The thesis read something along the lines of ‘intersectionality of…systems of supremacy…dynamics of historical oppression…’ or something or other. It didn’t mean much, but it sounded good. Prof. Zallen kindly pointed out that while the words sounded pretty, they didn’t mean a whole lot. I revised the paper and did well in the class. More importantly, though, I learned the seemingly obvious lesson that words are important, and that fancy words can be used to mask writing otherwise lacking in real ideas. Since Prof. Zallen’s class, I’ve worked to convey real ideas clearly, and I haven’t looked back.
What advice would you give to high school students who are considering Lafayette?
Never let yourself be the cause of your own problems. Uncontrollable obstacles and difficulties will always be there. But ultimately, you’re still responsible for tackling these challenges in the most disciplined, resilient, and strategic way you can. You’ll likely find that you control (and create) many more of these challenges than you think. You’ll also likely find that other people often face similar or greater struggles than you do. Or maybe not—maybe you’ve got a lot going on. It’s also a good idea to read How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport. Also, try to be different in one way or another!