08 November 2012

Hello, Sweetie

To clarify, I make that Doctor Who-related greeting to the Real Life Blog, which I am thrilled to be re-joining (albeit as a late arrival due to technical difficulties).

To you fine readers, I say hello! It is lovely to be back on the Real Life Blogs. Some of you may have had the chance to peruse last year's blog here, in which case you may be familiar with me. To those of you who aren't familiar with me, allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Grayson Arango. I'm a senior psychology major and religious studies minor here at Lewis & Clark College. I transferred in last year from Santa Barbara City College. I've lived all over, spending my infancy in the Northeast, my early youth in the South, my childhood on the West Coast, my teenage years in the Southwest and the West, and now I've settled here in the Northwest.

I came to Lewis & Clark for many reasons (some of which I outlined in a video almost exactly a year ago that you can view here). Basically, I would categorize my reasons as Lewis & Clark-based and Portland-based. In the Lewis & Clark category, there are things like the appeals of a balanced education open to exploration that a liberal arts school offers. There's the size of the school and the opportunity for community connections and involvement. The possibilities for involvement with professors on a personal level, chances to be involved in academic interests outside of the classroom, and exposure to symposiums and expert speakers all contributed to my interest in Lewis & Clark. Plus, I was particularly charmed by the school's insistence on the use of an ampersand rather than the word 'and' in the college's name. On the Portland side of things, I had the personal benefit of having family in the area (my oldest brother and his wife). As a result, I'd been able to experience Portland without it feeling so foreign that I didn't get to form a real perception of it. I love the attitudes of Portland as a city. I'm from a relatively small town, and so city life is very unfamiliar territory for me. Navigating complicated roadways, taking public transportation, and just generally being someplace big and full of strangers were all concerns of mine as I sought out someplace to be for the remainder of my college career. And yet, these problems were non-issues in Portland. Yes, I do have trouble sometimes remembering my way around, but Portland has consistently been the kind of place where I've had no trouble asking a stranger for help. Public transportation here is incredible, especially compared to the system back home. Furthermore, Lewis & Clark has taken steps to facilitate student transportation by having a shuttle system that transports students from campus to a downtown location just two blocks from a major public transportation hub.

I think of the college decision process not as one where you simply choose your next school. You're also choosing your next home. This is the place that you will spend the rest of your school career, and it's important to remember the social aspects that come with that as well. I grew up on a boarding school campus with my parents, who both taught there. I then went to a boarding school for high school, so for me school has always conceptually been a fusion of community and academics. College is just that. Of course you should find someplace where you can shape yourself as an academic, but you should also find someplace where you can shape yourself as an individual. Whether you're a freshman or a transfer student, your next destination is a fresh start. I find it hard to deny the influence that every place we go has upon us, so why not choose someplace for the influence we want it to make on us? Find somewhere that allows you to explore and discover passions and parts of yourself you hadn't found yet.

I believe that Lewis & Clark has those opportunities for each of its students. The curriculum and the community are both shaped in a way that aims to broaden your perspectives while also allowing you to take what you learn about yourself and your passions and follow that. Some people worry that a liberal arts education will distract you from what you already know you like. Instead, a liberal arts education enhances that. You can take what you already know and love and connect it with these broader disciplines and ideas you might not have been exposed to had you committed to a narrow academic path. The "diversions" of a broad, liberal arts education have benefits even in the downfalls. Yes, you may have to take a class outside of your comfort zone. In the best case scenario, you love it and gain a new interest. In the worst, you have succeeded in some self-discovery, even if it was a matter of discovering what you did NOT like.

I know that all this perspective from me right off the bat may be hard to process. Whether you're new to this year's blog or a consistent reader, I'm just as new and foreign to you as my Lewis & Clark peers once were to me. In fact, I was in your same position two years ago. I came to read the Real Life Blogs hoping to understand Lewis & Clark in a way that brochures, though informational, couldn't convey. I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for here.

To help you in seeing me as less of a stranger, let me elaborate some about myself. As I said before, I grew up at a boarding school (Cate School) with my family. I have two older brothers and three border collies. In a perfect world (like, say, a school vacation), I'd spend my free time with friends and family, horseback riding, spending time with my dogs, watching hockey, reading, and watching television. Not everything's about personal time and relaxation, though. I make serious efforts to be involved at Lewis & Clark, whether it's on an event attendance level or membership level. Though my schedule isn't always permissive, I try to attend as many interesting events on campus as I can (and there are plenty of interesting events on campus). I'm a member of Campus Activities Board, Palatine Hill Animal Defense, United Sexualities, and French Club. I serve as a student representative on the Peer Review Authority, a student committee that responds to conduct violations in a manner that reflects the greater student population's needs while also respecting the students involved. I'm the Copy Editing Chief for the Pioneer Log student-run newspaper, which has been time-consuming and delightful. In addition to all that, I'm also just a plain, ol' student. I'll be sure to regale you with plenty of updates about my extracurricular goings-on here at LC, but there'll also be a lot from the academic side of things, too.

After college, I hope to teach English or religion, ideally at a boarding school. I'm currently in the process of applying for jobs, and it's allowing me to re-experience those application jitters that I once felt and you all are likely feeling now. Once I've spent some time teaching, I'm considering returning to school for a higher degree in psychology. I'm very interested in working with patients who've suffered traumatic brain injuries, and I hope to one day help in that field. I recently volunteered with an equine therapy program over the summer that assisted with psychological, developmental, and physical disabilities. I hope to continue to contribute in that type of volunteer work as I pursue opportunities after graduation from LC.

I'm very open to communication from all of you, so please contact me if you have any questions or comments. My e-mail is graysonarango@lclark.edu, so you can reach me there. Also, please take a look at the Youtube channel I made for the Real Life Blog last year. I will be updating it soon with new content for the new term.

Once more, I'm so happy to get the chance to help you all navigate the college decision process. I'm sorry to come in late in the game, but I look forward to making up for lost time. Again, feel free to get in touch!

'Til next time,
Grayson