Brendan Veeneman '07

On learning beyond one's major: "I think it is a uniquely Oberlin phenomenon that introductory courses are every bit as interesting and rigorous as upper level courses, and it was this strength that encouraged me to diversify my education as I desired."


There I was, sixteen and glaring out a window as sixteen-year-olds excel, overlooking some of the most homogeneous landscape I had ever traversed. Ohio. Moraine rolled against sky as if to dare human beings to plant corn. Nearly all of the visible ground was being put to agricultural use as my family's laden minivan crossed into the state. Even as we passed through Cleveland I was cynical, for I hailed from the great state of Massachusetts, why should I leave my friends and family for a school somewhere else? Who the hell needs so much corn? Half-heartedly, I began my visit. At the end, my experience interacting with Oberlin faculty had all but evaporated my ennui and replaced it with academic excitement. Loving learning is what made Oberlin appeal to me. Loving learning is why I had such a fantastic academic experience here.

I came to Oberlin as many freshmen do, with a naive presumption as to my major (Biology). Unlike many freshman, and many of my good friends, by some random chance I happened to have been right. What I couldn't guess was by which path I would arrive at the podium some four years later.

I began by following the core Biology requirements, but as time went on I espoused an increasing respect for quantitative proficiency and a proactive stance when it comes to research science. True innovation cannot effectively be achieved in a vacuum - it takes breadth and depth of knowledge. I think it is a uniquely Oberlin phenomenon that introductory courses are every bit as interesting and rigorous as upper level courses, and it was this strength that encouraged me to diversify my education as I desired. I attribute this quality of coursework entirely to the Oberlin faculty, and I am immensely grateful to them. Whether I was learning how to integrate a three dimensional object or integrate better vocabulary into my visual analyses of art, how to write well or how to write an operating system, how chemicals descend through a column or birds descended from dinosaurs, the infectious enthusiasm of my professors always held my attention. Oberlin has excellent academics, but I should mention I also have many great friends from Oberlin, and the corn really isn't that bad.


Submitted by Brendan Veeneman '07

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