So how do I distill me and my journey to and in Shimer to a single blog post? I don’t know but what follows is my passing attempt at doing so.
My name is David and this is my second year at Shimer. This means I’ve completed all my ones and twos (Social Sciences 1 & 2 for example). It also means I passed my Basic Comp (a harrowing experience where we doing readings in Natural science, Humanities, and Social Science with written pieces for each along with a graded classroom discussion on one or more pieces we read).
I grew up in the Chicagoland area my whole life. Just before coming to Shimer I was working in school bussing doing all kinds of business and safety/training sort of things. I started looking at schools when I realized corporate life just wasn’t what I wanted long term. My father went to a Great Books school for a year so the concept wasn’t new to me. I honestly didn’t apply anywhere else and I don’t regret that one bit.
I’ve always been a reader and I love discussions so a Great Books program seemed to make sense. Shimer does a great job of expanding the core of a Great Books program to include voices not typically there (women, people of color, really any sort of minority voice is ignored in most Great Books curriculums) and that is a HUGE draw for me. Add in that I was a terrible student in high school, had never taken SAT or ACT, and hadn’t been in school in 7 years. Needless to say the reality that Shimer uses things like the essay part of the application and interviews to heavily inform their decision for admittance was a big deal to me.
I felt awkward my first few weeks; I’m 26 and some first-year students are as young as 16. Also, spending 7 years in corporate America meant my style of dress doesn’t fit in at any college anywhere. However, Shimer doesn’t judge as a community based on anything except how you are in the classroom and the community. Honestly, I forget that some of my classmates are 10 years younger than me until I want to invite them out for drinks. That was beautiful and by the end of my first year I can say Shimer felt more like home than anywhere ever had.
Jim Ulrich and Nat Sci 1 (our chemistry class) reminded me how much I love science, something traditional schooling sapped me of. Ann Dolinko’s Soc 2 reengaged me in political life and is probably the reason I got the political work I’ve recently been doing. Stuart Patterson’s reaching out to me after hearing I was taking a semester off highlighted just how AWESOME our facilitators and environment at Shimer are. Honestly, I’ve not met a facilitator yet that isn’t fantastically brilliant and incredibly engaged with their students.
Shimer is a wonderful place and I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me. From time to time I’ll try to remember to post something here to let you all have a slice of that journey as well. Right now I’m pretty focused on how what I do can raise up not just me but others as well… How fortunate I got to a school with a motto of Non Ministrari Sed Ministare (“Not to be served but to serve”).