Minnesota, United States
Why did you choose to attend Minerva?
I did not have to be convinced to attend Minerva. From my high school experience, I knew what I did and did not want in college. I did not want to learn excessive material to later forget it. I did not want to stay in the same location for four years. I did not want to be in a community with people who were not passionate about their work. Instead, I wanted to learn for life, to gain real world experience, and to surround myself with people who would push me to question my assumptions. Minerva caught my attention because its model is founded on the acquisition of critical thinking skills and global awareness — both of which I know will be applicable to any career at any point in my life. I wanted to grow both academically and personally during university and I know I will be challenged to do both at Minerva.
What do you like about Minerva academics (class, pedagogy, curriculum)?
I see Minerva’s academics as an investment. In high school, I spent a lot of time preparing, studying, and stressing myself out for excessive tests, presentations, and work that were, ultimately, not meaningful. I would force myself to accumulate empty amounts of material-based knowledge only to forget it soon after. To me, this defeated the point of education. If I’m going to spend hours studying, I want to derive worth from it. At Minerva, we focus on learning skills that can be applied to numerous contexts. I find myself using these skills when I communicate, analyze, and interact with new people, situations, and topics. To me, this means I have learned something meaningful.
What do you aspire to do when you graduate? What is a problem you would like to address in the world?
I am interested in genetics, international relations, geography, health, and the relationships between people. I am passionate about understanding the relationships between agents at a variety of scales and the implications of these relationships. For a long time, I was unsure of how I could combine these interests, but last semester in my Empirical Analysis course, we explored the big question, “How can we avoid global pandemics?” We simulated infections of viruses with different properties to explore how we might be able to reduce these risks. For the first time, I saw how all of my interests could be combined through the field of epidemiology. I want to continue to explore the health sector with a focus on interpersonal relations.
What was your motivation for studying abroad during high school? How has your experience influenced your worldview?
Initially, coming from a homogeneous small town in the Midwest region of the United States, I did not have the confidence, awareness, nor the resources to study abroad. It was only after I became deeply interested in geography and was invited to represent my home state of Minnesota at Camp Rising Sun, a month-long international leadership camp in New York, did I begin to understand how complex the world was. At Camp Rising Sun, I slept under the stars in upstate New York with 59 other girls from 25 countries with no access to technology. For the first time in my life, my assumptions were deeply challenged, and as a result, my impressions of the world changed dramatically. After that summer, it became my mission to learn more from others and to surround myself with a diverse, passionate community. Camp Rising Sun motivated me to study abroad in Germany during my junior year of high school and in Guatemala and India during the summer. Throughout each of my experiences, I was able to live and interact with the people, culture, and country from the lens of a local rather than a tourist. Through observing how my host families and friends perceived their culture, I learned how to be more conscious with my actions and how to more effectively question my assumptions. My international experiences gave me new families and micro-communities from around the world.
What did you learn from the Experiment in International Living Leadership Institute program?
I attended the Experiment in International Living Leadership Institute program, which focused on the intersectionality of public health and community development in India. I traveled to northern India for six weeks to learn about and explore public health priorities in urban and rural areas and to observe the connection between health and community development. During a homestay in a small Himalayan village, I met with community leaders and public health specialists to discuss gender justice and social determinants to health. This impactful program provided me with a non-Western perspective on the world, which pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me to consider other frames of reference.
How did living away from home during high school help shape you?
When I was accepted into the Experiment in International Living Leadership Institute, it meant my 11 months away from home was extended to 13 months. The re-entry shock from Germany and culture shock in India pushed me to grow in all ways imaginable. I was the only constant in my life and had to rely on myself physically, emotionally, and mentally. I found my voice due to the necessity of having to be my own advocate and became more secure in making decisions and creating projects. Furthermore, the distance made me value my family, culture, and consistency of my community in Minnesota, while, at the same time, fueling my desire to continue to travel and experience the world.
What skills or lessons did you learn that have been useful in your studies at Minerva?
Fortunately, the experiences I had during my high school years gave me the skills I needed to begin to establish a foundation at Minerva. High school taught me to work hard on the task at hand, even when the outcomes seemed murky. Guatemala taught me to embrace the unknown with curiosity. Germany taught me how to consciously communicate in order to build intimate relationships despite glaring cultural differences. India taught me to be confident in my decisions despite the inconsistency of my surroundings. Ultimately, the years leading up to Minerva were a time in which my view of the world was reshaped again and again and I know this will continue as a trend as I continue on this journey of cultural exploration.
Why do you think it is important to be a global citizen?
Although I am far from considering myself a global citizen, I think it is critical to have people who are aware of their surroundings and understand how their actions impact the lives of others. It is necessary to use the power which results from living in an interconnected world to our advantage to support under-resourced individuals, communities, and countries.
What would you tell another student who is considering Minerva?
Minerva is not for everyone but if you are curious about the world and yearn for an experience that will not only develop you academically but, also, personally and socially, then Minerva may be right for you. If you are ready for a challenge unlike any other, evaluate what is important to you and try to formulate what you want to gain and become in the next four years.
If you were inspired by Megan’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.