As a Sarah Lawrence College admitted student, you are on the verge of joining a community comprised of unique men and women who stretch the limits of conventional thinking. Like you, they are significantly talented, but not content to rest on their laurels. Whether scientists, performers, educators, entrepreneurs, or Antartic explorers, they share an inventive and open-ended approach to their lives. Through SLC's distinctive educational system—small seminars, individual conferences with professors, an open curriculum, and self-directed program of study—they are exploring and growing in ways that suit them personally. And taking their passions to a whole new, deeper level.
After her first year at Sarah Lawrence, Meghan Roguschka realized that the College’s educational system offered an extraordinary opportunity. “I had the chance to learn what might motivate me on a deeper and more meaningful level,” she says. It wasn’t long before she and a classmate spent their summer in India on a Davis Projects for Peace grant. Meghan returned to SLC with a serious interest in development studies, particularly in the realm of anthropology.
That interest led to courses with Jamee Moudud and Robert Desjarlais. “My work with Jamee is responsible for complicating my notion of ‘development,’ for inspiring my analytical writing, and for pushing me to intertwine my interests in economics with anthropology,” she says. “My work with Bob has prepared me both professionally and emotionally for the work I am about to begin as a PhD candidate in anthropology at Harvard.”
In every course, Meghan has relished the interplay of seminars and conference work—and the stimulation of class discussions. “I actually decided not to do a senior thesis because I didn’t want to miss out on the dynamic of a seminar during my final year,” she says. To extend that dynamic even further, Meghan organized the Development Studies Symposium to increase on-campus dialogue about student work and ideas.
As a first-year student, Trevor Wallace traveled to Antarctica for two weeks with an organization called Students on Ice. His mission: to make a documentary on environmental conservation for his “Experimental Film” class. He has since shown The Compass Points South at the Explorer’s Club in Manhattan (a branch of National Geographic), the Sarah Lawrence Film Festival, and the Museum of Natural History.
Coming from a high school at which athletics was taken very seriously, Brooklynn Moore has found a more balanced culture at Sarah Lawrence. “As a Gryphon, I’ve been playing a little more for the love of the game, not just for the win,” she says. Even so, she has grown in her chosen sport of volleyball. “It’s still possible to hold yourself to a standard of personal discipline,” says Brooklynn. “My coaches have each taught me new drills and exercises, new ways to push myself. They urge us on, encouraging us to keep giving our best. On a deeper level, they’ve continued to add to my love of sport.” Read more about Brooklynn on gogryphons.com»
Luis was born in Argentina to Chinese parents, lived in China for three years, and then returned to Argentina. Now he's enjoying all that SLC and NYC have to offer. Read an interview with Luis»
Before he even came to campus, Philip Naess was in contact with his future teammates on the soccer squad. “They were all great guys,” he says, “and they really helped me out those first days of school.” Starting college as part of an athletic “family” meant having friends right away and sharing a camaraderie that extended beyond the playing field. “In addition to practice and matches, you travel, eat, and have classes together,” says Philip. “There is solidarity on and off the pitch.” A member of the tennis team as well, Philip was named Athlete of the Year in 2012.
In addition to conference work, students may undertake a senior thesis, guided and evaluated by a faculty committee selected by the student. In her thesis “The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hizbullah in Lebanon: From Radicalism to Fundamentalism?”—inspired by events of the Arab Spring—Aya Matsumoto examined these organizations as political actors. “Both have been branded as radical or even terrorist—yet I wanted to probe deeper,” says Aya. “I wanted to look at how their ideologies had changed and to see if there was any shift toward what I call ‘political pragmatism.’”
Teresa was born in Malawi, raised in Mozambique, and graduated high school in Swaziland. At SLC, she concentrates in economics and political science. Read an interview with Teresa»
Russell Cohen Hoffing
“I’ve never really understood people,” says Russell Cohen Hoffing when asked to explain his interest in neuroscience. “But that’s all I’ve ever wanted to know.” Simple questions such as Why do people do the things they do? and How do they do them? led to his enrolling in “Psychoneuroimmunology” and other neuroscience courses taught by biology professor Leah Olson. “Leah and her courses have made me who I am today,” says Russell. “She is a biological historian of the brain.”
Russell extended his passion by bringing National Brain Awareness Week—a global campaign to inform the public about brain research—to campus. In a collective effort with other students, he has organized the event, complete with panel discussions, performers, and speakers—including Dr. Bruce McEwen. “Our goal is to link art and science,” he says, “and I think we have been extremely successful.” One measure of his success: interest in the student organization Brainwashed, which Russell co-founded to continue delving into the mysteries of the brain.
Kay Ottinger knew she wanted to study dance at Sarah Lawrence, but she didn’t know how deeply she wanted to study it. With the College’s open curriculum, she varied her course work—taking classes in art history and Spanish, along with a number of history classes on China and Russia, along with a dance third each year. By senior year, her commitment to dance had grown to where she was taking a double dance third; that is, two-thirds of her course load in dance. Though she explored other fields, her level of interest in dance was clear: for a modern Russia class, she did her conference work on Russian-Soviet dance; while studying abroad in Argentina, she was motivated to do independent study on the tango. “Because of my conference work and independent study,” she says, “I was really able to delve into something I wanted to do.”
A music concentration, but a physics adviser? It makes sense to Patrick Metzger. “I wanted to take a fair number of math, artificial intelligence, psychology, and computer science classes. If I had had a music adviser, my path would have been different.” Though he realized from his first year that he didn’t think like a physicist, he was nevertheless drawn to math and science—and treasured the advice his physicist don could provide. “In the sciences, it’s great to have the ability to cross mediums. It has everything to do with the real world.” That kind of creative, interdisciplinary thinking has led to some interesting conference projects. “I explored Tesla’s biography in physics and then wrote a choral piece about it. In another case, I got to write a piece about how entropy relates to evolution.” Then there’s the research on split-brain syndrome he did for a narrative neuropsychology course—looking at how the mind works by examining the novel A Scanner Darkly.
Among Abbie Heffelfinger’s goals for the future: “working to create systemic change rather than placing band-aids.” At Sarah Lawrence, she has acquired both academic knowledge and practical experience to make that possible. “The classes I’ve taken have been about figuring out how economic systems and theories work in the real world,” she says. Referring to courses such as “Environmental Policy and Development,” she describes herself as “obsessed with economics.” Other courses and volunteer work have given her hands-on exposure to outreach. In “Poverty and Public Policy,” she had a service learning placement at A Different Start, an organization in Yonkers through which she mentored and tutored teen pregnant and parenting mothers. “It made the books we were reading very tangible,” she says.