How College Changed My Outlook on Academics

I have always considered myself a good, hard-working student.  My high work ethic and desire to exceed expectations became visible to others at a very young age.  In my elementary school, I devoted all of my recesses to coordinating and working at the “School Store” that sold school supplies to younger students.  In middle school, I was placed in the upper-level classes and was chosen to represent my school as a guest speaker at a conference of 500+ middle school teachers (a 13-year-old’s worst nightmare!)  In high school, I achieved in many honors courses and was inducted into the National Honor Society of Secondary Schools. I even did well enough to be accepted by the prestigious Marist College!

Although I always did well academically because of my diligent personality, I never particularly felt “enjoyment” or “fulfillment” or “enlightenment” out of the knowledge I was acquiring each day from 8:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m.  I concentrated on friends, family, and school activities to satisfy me, and saw school as a secondary part of my life that I had to exceed in to get into college.

Even as a underclassmen college student I still struggled to be fulfilled by this education my

My sister's graduation

parents were now emptying their wallets for.  When I attended my sister’s graduation from Alfred University in New York last May, a sense of jealousy came over me as I witnessed her strong relationships with professors and her true love for academics.  Her strong intellect and eagerness to further educate herself each day has shaped her into the amazing person she is today.  She still has trouble describing in words how fulfilled she is because of the amazing college education she received. I began to think, I’m in college, why aren’t I feeling this amazing enlightenment?  What’s missing from my education? Sometimes, why do I feel like I’m not being challenged  or taught anything new in class?  And how could anyone, in their right mind, love this so much that they would decide to pursue an academic career rather than working in the field they’ve spent so much time studying? My parents encouraged me, saying that I just need to wait; those upper-level classes will change my outlook on education for sure.

As always, Mom and Dad were right.

I dipped my feet into the pool of educated exploration during my time in Claire Keith’s Global Studies class.  In this class, Claire allows the students to discuss their global experiences and learn from each other.  There are so many peculiar things to learn about in this world, and sometimes I felt silly sitting in this class amongst people who had so much global knowledge, and had experienced or learned about the world to a much fuller extent than myself.  It was during my time in this class that I first recognized the power of learning through experience: it can establish an appetite for academics.

My first dive into academia fever came to me while studying abroad in Florence. Yes, being abroad in another country definitely brought about many new feelings of wonder, but it also gave me that extra push I needed to be intrigued by academics.  While those naturally inclined to “dig deeper” and educate themselves on a daily basis don’t need an adventure  like learning in a foreign country to initiate their desire, others never experience the thirst for knowledge at all.  I am very lucky to have had the opportunity to go abroad and begin flourishing academically, professionally, and socially.

There wasn’t one class that I walked out of while attending Lorenzo de’Medici that I didn’t learn something new, leaving me fascinated and eager to know more.  I made sure to attend the classes and complete all of the schoolwork to my best ability.  Was I actually enjoying these academics and engaging my new knowledge even though I definitely did not need to do so to earn a good grades?  Was I actually embracing this stuff?  In Italy, I realized how much new information out there will intrigue and entertain me as I encounter it.  My art history, Medici family history, Italian language & cooking, and wine & culture classes helped me to develop new interests and mold me into the knowledge-seeking individual I am today.  Now, I find myself constantly on a quest to feel enlightened again, to grasp onto the same feeling I got while roaming the Florentine streets.

As an enlightened student returned home from Florence, I can’t help but blurt out new knowledge I gained from my academic and travel experiences in Europe on a regular basis.  I continue my quest for knowledge in my classes at Marist, and feel fulfilled now more than ever each time I walk out of a classroom (even if it is the LT basement).  My time in the classroom is sacred, and that sometimes reflects in my eager participation.  My time in Europe, as well as the great curriculum in my upper-level classes have forever changed my outlook on being a student: it’s not just a job, its a life-long profession that I will always strive to achieve in.

Overall, I have never been as certain about myself as a person as I am today.  Now, I recognize that my appetite for continuous, growing knowledge will always be with me. A special thanks to my parents, family, professors, and angels of guidance who led me to this realization.

Marissa DeAngelis
Class of 2012

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Follow Marissa on Twitter:!/MSDe526

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