Friday, March 5, 2010

Senior Profile, Dogwood-style

Dakota, junior DPN-er, e-mailed the American Studies majors (all four of us) because the American Studies major is being changed (a good change) and they are reviving old traditions and customs, including the newsletter. Dakota's e-mail began:

"I really hate to do this to you, I do. But Sundahl has spoken, and by some mystic power of Lutheran persuasion I have taken up his command. There shall be a newsletter sent out to our most illustrious [and hopefully successful] alumni, and in keeping with the beautiful newsletters published by Dr. Jordan in 2002/2003, which Matt has generously furnished me with as source material, we will be including...senior profiles. This means you."

I love that. Dakota kills me. He really does. He also makes incredible paper airplanes.

Here are my answers:

What is your thesis topic? Title/adviser if applicable. How did you choose a topic? Any special research or interviews that helped you in your writing?
Loosely stated: the degradation of the family with the expansion of government, focusing on the 1965 Moynihan Report and the black American family. My thesis adviser is Dr. Allan C. Carlson. I chose my thesis topic because of my interest in race relations, government social engineering, and life in a post-Christian nation with fundamental Christian roots. I did research at the Library of Congress and spoke to a few specialists on the phone.

What are you future plans? What would you like to be doing in 10 years?
My future plans involve being fruitfully employed; two years ago, I was at a Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians game with my cousins, and those guys who smooth out the dirt on the baseball diamond came out. I asked my cousin's husband who they were, and he replied, "American Studies majors." My exact future occupation is yet to be decided, but I do know that I would like to continue writing (namely book reviews, articles, essays, short stories and the like) and work towards re-creating a Christian Republic of Letters. If I am being called towards the vocation of marriage, in the next 10 years, I'll be married and re-populating the world with more Roman Catholics; but if not, I'd like to serve the Lord as a missionary overseas.

What aspect of the American Studies program have you most enjoyed over the last four years?
I knew none of the other American Studies majors very well the first two years in the program, and now, four years later, I am very close friends with a few of them, on good terms with all of them. I have loved my teachers and my classes, especially American Order and Disorder with Dr. Birzer, the Robert Frost seminar with Dr. Sundahl and Dr. Willson, and the Conservative-Libertarian Debate with Dr. Schlueter and Dr. Wenzel. I love the interdisciplinary aspect of the major, because I learn more not only in the actual class, but through my surrounding classes, whether it be context or connecting ideas.

Tell me about your best Delta Pi Nu moment or memory. The worst moment or memory is also acceptable and even encouraged.
My favorite Delta Pi Nu memory was the summer between junior and senior year, when Matt Stone, Emily Thiessen, Dakota Fuller and I were all in Washington, D.C. for the summer and Katherine Correll came up to visit. We went out to lunch, briefly discussed amending the DPN constitution and then went to the National Gallery, where we found major figures in history we had read in Dr. Gamble's History of the American Identity class. We got our picture with the portrait of George Berkeley, who said "Westward the course of empire takes its way." So, in a bad memory sort of way, we Dogwoodians mocked the art museum for their lack of proper understanding of historiography in their mini-bios by the art. Nonetheless, for better or for worse, I/ we the class can never read historical texts the same way again. Dr. Gamble, you've ruined us!

Honorable mention to Founding Fridays, a definite highlight of my college experience. I am continually grateful, humbled, and edified by these friendships and conversations, and the chance to enjoy their fellowship over beer.

Any parting wisdom or advice for coming American Studies majors?
Read, read, read: books, essays, speeches, newspaper articles, magazine features, poems and short stories. Take an active interest to know current events as well as the history, political philosophy and literature. Acknowledge that ideas have consequences and prepare accordingly to defend the responsibility of holding thoughts. Do not only seek truth, but intend on finding it; additionally, it will not be enough to know it--one must study it, understand it, and energetically promote it.

Furthermore, American Studies is not a major for the easily intimidated. Take the best teachers and expect to work hard. What a student gets out of the major is contingent of the work one puts in, as well as having an insatiable curiosity and a disposition to be happy in small ways. Dress up often, because it will encourage an air of seriousness towards your studies, but especially after pulling an all-nighter (what I fondly call "the graveyard shift"). Smile on test days. Never cease from exploration. Find your passion. Don't be afraid to discuss ideas with people who hold differing views. And never, ever underestimate people who wear penny loafers.

Give a parting author, book or quote that you are fond of in the context of Hillsdale/American Studies/DPN.

“Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall be forever encouraged.”
--Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance

Also, an incomplete list of favorite reads: George Nash's "The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America since 1945," John Courtney Murray, S.J.'s "We Hold These Truths," Robert Frost's poetry and lectures, Flannery O'Connor's "Mystery and Manners," Willa Cather's "Death Comes For the Archbishop," Whittaker Chamber's "Letter to my Children," F.A. Hayek's "Constitution of Liberty," Russell Kirk's essays, Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Zora Neale Hurston's "How It Feels To Be Colored Me," T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets," William F. Buckley's "The Trojan Horse of American Education?" and Paul Elmer More's "Pages from an Oxford Diary."

And for 10 bonus points, what is the true, the good and the beautiful?
It is not what, but rather--who: "I AM" (Exodus 3:14). The Incarnation of our Lord gives meaning to the past, understanding to the present, and hope to the future, reflecting truth (Gospel of John, chapter 1), goodness (Romans 2:4), and beauty (Psalm 104), for "it touched heaven, but it stood upon the earth" (Wisdom 18:16).

Second bonus question: what is the most American beer? In other words: "What would George Washington drink?"
Shiner Bock, hands down.

Tonight starts my last Initiation weekend ever... can't believe it.
"Kappas are dedicated to living by the ultimate Greek ideals of goodness, truth, and beauty. Kappa at its core is about these qualities: leadership, scholarship, and friendship."

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