The Risk/Reward Principle

When I arrived at Swarthmore, I was convinced of several things: I would choose my major first semester, my roommate and I were going to be best friends, and I had to read the Iliad in the original Greek if I wanted to be a fulfilled human being. (My roommate was in fact very cool, but none of these things turned out to be true.) With this notion of my destiny in mind, I threw myself at the mercy of the Classics Department.

I didn’t do this lightly. I emerged from years of Spanish slightly befuddled, and that was a Romance language! But one of the reasons I’d come to Swarthmore was the pass-fail semester freshman year. For the first time, I could fall flat on my face and there would be no consequences.

To this day, it is the hardest I’ve worked in a Swarthmore classroom. My professor would enter the room each morning, hand out the vocab quiz, and remark wryly: “We are not put on this earth for pleasure alone!”

I tried other things, too. I performed in Richard III and had a campus radio show that played only British New Wave. Slowly, my life began to come together. The night before my Greek final, I was terrified. But I was surrounded by friends and I got the news that same night that I’d gotten the female lead in an upcoming production. The next morning, I would take the hardest final of my life so far. But that night, I was unafraid. I knew that I’d put down roots at Swarthmore.

The friends who surrounded me that night surround me still, and that role lead to many more. I passed Greek, and I’ve never been afraid to try anything here, because the secret to Swarthmore is risk, and I was rewarded.



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