A Conversation with Minerva Student Marleyx

A Conversation with Minerva Student Marle | Apr, 2, 2018

Quick Facts

Marley Esch

Texas, U.S.A.


Social Sciences


Why did you choose to attend Minerva?
My initial interest in Minerva was centered around the unique global immersion aspect, but after more research, my final decision to enroll was based on the structure of Minerva’s classes: I really loved the commitment to student engagement via seminars, rather than lectures. I was confident that the global “city as a campus” experience and multicultural student body would offer more opportunities for me to learn, both in and out of class, than a traditional university could.

Why did you select your major and concentration?
I’m in my first year at Minerva, so I’m not 100 percent sure what my major will be but I am leaning toward majoring in Social Sciences with a concentration in Cognition, Brain, and Behavior. I have always loved psychology and been interested in exploring questions like “Why do people do what they do?”

Our Empirical Analysis course, one of the four Cornerstone Courses all students take in the first year, recently had a small unit on biases, which confirmed that psychology is not only something I absolutely adore, but I’ll continue to learn from the classmates and professors who share that passion over the next three years.

What do you aspire to do when you graduate?
Before coming to Minerva, I wanted to be a research psychologist. But after less than a year here, I’ve already been exposed to a multitude of career paths that I didn’t even know about or realize I might be interested in, like being a marketing director or a design solutions consultant, for example. With all these new options to consider, I can’t say for sure where I’ll end up. But whatever I choose, I want to use psychology to influence people to take action for important causes like ending animal cruelty and helping to find solutions for homelessness.

For my final project this year, I am exploring how priming and in-group effects can be used to make Market Street, a major street in San Francisco, safer. My team and I plan to develop practical ways to encourage social interaction and accountability in order to decrease crime and increase feelings of community. Through projects and experiences like these, I am able to explore my interests in a real-world setting and develop my skills while doing something important: creating a safer environment for all.

What’s one challenge you are passionate about solving in the city you live in, or will live in, while at Minerva?
One challenge I am very passionate about is ending animal testing when it is not absolutely necessary. To me, “necessary” testing leads to tangible improvements to human life, and otherwise, it is abusive to carry out tests on animals. For example, studying the effects of new drugs that may cure disease is impactful, but using animals to test cosmetic skin care products is unethical. While this isn’t a city-specific issue, a good place for me to start would be my hometown of Rockwall, Texas. No, I can’t change laws on my own, but I can help educate consumers and influence them to stay away from brands that use animal testing. If no one is willing to buy animal tested cosmetic products, then companies will be swayed to stop unnecessary animal testing, as it will affect their sales and decreases their value. Money, as we know, has a strong power to make a wide-spread industry change.

What are some of your other passions and interests?
I love reading, writing, swimming, and animals. For most of my childhood, I wanted to to to be a young-adult novelist, and part of me still does! I would love to be a writer on the side, while also doing another job I am passionate about — I have a lot of interests!

I have been a swimmer since I was eight, and cannot begin to express how much I miss the pool that I essentially called “home” all of last year. I feel at peace while swimming (and really love exercise that doesn’t involve feeling sweaty) and that it gives me time to think. I have also always loved animals, and have a passion for finding homes for lost and abandoned pets. If I’m being honest, the hardest part of being away from home is not having my dogs nearby. But I’ve found ways to deal with my dog “withdrawal.” Here in San Francisco, I am a dog walker. I get paid, get exercise, and get to play with dogs — its the perfect job!

What are you currently reading?
Right now, I’m reading The Lying Game by Ruth Ware. She’s a relatively new author with only three books published so far, but I’ve loved every one of them. I not only love the way in which she writes, but the fact that all of her novels are of the horror genre, but based in the “real world” — that is, without ghosts or demons. She takes the classic mystery novel and gives it a touch more anxiety and fright that keeps you turning the pages.

Tell us about a meaningful or thought-provoking interaction you have had with a Minerva professor.
For Complex Systems this semester I have Professor Levy Odera, who makes every single class meaningful and thought-provoking. During the first two weeks of class, for example, instead of making each of us say our names and where we are from, he would ask three or four students per class what they believed their three most important values are. Not only did this help me look inward and recognize what I personally think is most important, but it made the entire class more meaningful. By sharing such personal thoughts with each other, the entire class got closer and started to care more about the impact we had on one another both academically and emotionally. The class has become a support system for us all to share and learn from each other.

How is Minerva shaping the future, in your own words?
Minerva is shaping the future by not only shaping the future of those that attend and work there, but by impacting the rest of the world. Every staff and faculty member and student is changed for the better thanks to Minerva; we are all able to learn so much from one another and to get excited about other’s visions for what the future holds. And as Minerva impacts us, we are in turn able to change the world.

Even in just our first year, my classmates and I are all in teams working on various final projects to help improve San Francisco across various aspects, from education to safety to child-care. Minerva is improving the world by challenging us to work hard and achieve the vision we each have for the future and giving us the tools and resources to make the changes we feel strongly about.

Let’s talk a bit about your International Baccalaureate (IB) experience. Did TOK (theory of knowledge) prepare you for Minerva’s active learning experience?
Of all of the classes I took in high school, TOK is one of those that best prepared me for Minerva. Although nothing could have entirely prepared me for the active learning experience here, TOK allowed for open discussion and engaged learning, much like Minerva classes. We had lots of debates about the homework readings, for example, so that class-time was focused more on evaluating what we knew rather than listening to a lecture.

How did the IB program influence your experience exploring the world, and living and learning in new cultures at Minerva?
The IB program inspired me to put myself in new, exciting, and possibly uncomfortable situations. The most impactful portion of IB for me was a week-long stay in Switzerland for the IB World Student Conference (IBWSC). Before this conference the summer of my junior year, it was hard to see how large and diverse the IB community really is, simply because we don’t get to see those from different countries. However, during the IBWSC, I was able to meet and befriend IB members from all over the world!

In that week, I learned so much about other cultures, I was even more inspired to travel the world. The ability to be in Switzerland, where everyone around me was speaking French, and even small things like the “weird” but delicious snacks my roommate from China shared, I realized that I love being in places where I’m confused and a little lost. Without IB, my love of travel would have just been theoretical, but the program gave me the opportunity to be sure: I really do enjoy exploring different cultures, geography, and cuisine.

If you were inspired by Marley’s story and are seeking a college experience that will teach you valuable pragmatic skills that will enable you to change the world, apply to join Minerva today.