Mahogany '18

I came from the north side of Chicago, so Putney was a bit of a culture shock. My freshman year I took Humans in the Natural World and worked in the barn hitching cows. I’d only seen cows in pictures and in movies. I had to confront my fear of cows right away. I live in a dorm on the other side of the farm, which means every day I walk through a beautiful pasture. That’s what I mean by culture shock.

Progressive education means you learn for yourself, not for the teacher, not for the grades. At my old school, I did a lot of memorizing. I knew how to cheat the system. We almost never discussed what we were learning. That’s all different here. The classes are more integrated, which means an idea that you have in one class might pop up again in another. There’s a lot to talk about.

I’m most excited for American Studies next year, and Writing & Research. I’m also taking African History. The number of choices here force you to prioritize. But the choices I make are based on my priorities. Not someone else’s.

I’ve become very interested in the prison industrial complex in this country—how prisons are big business, and what that means for a prisoner’s life. For Project Week, I’m exploring the intersections between feminism, race, and privilege.

I was just elected a student trustee, so I’m one of two students on the board. I’ve also been helping to run the Diversity Committee all year. A lot of people came to the discussions we hosted, which was surprising. It was great to create an environment where people feel comfortable enough to share, even if the discussions are hard. I feel like we've built a platform, and this next year there are some new students on the committee and we’ll be open to hearing their ideas. We talk a lot about how our beliefs might infringe on others’. We talk about cultural fluency and ignorance—about how ignorance is a privilege we can’t all afford. I think I’ve helped open people up.

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