Life After Ripon – Elizabeth Brown ’13

Chapter 6: A Year in Retrospect

[Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Brown ’13, Jessie Lillis ’13, Kyle Ruedinger ’13, and Amy Browender ’13 are writing alternating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]

As my final “year in the life of Lizzie” post for the Ripon Alumni blog, I decided to write this one about some general reflections on life this past year. Also, because I always enjoy learning from others’ mistakes, I thought I should include some of my own (if only for their amusing qualities).

Education Warehouse Open For Those Who Look For It
Behold! Oh mighty educating sources of the world, let the knowledge flood forth into my noggin and I will repay you by furthering the education of the world. In first arriving and wandering the campus of intelligent-looking buildings, I thought that with diligence in my classes and involvement in campus life I could maybe, just maybe, gain enough smarts to be satisfied with that. Debby Downer Alert: um no, that will never happen. That’s the funny thing about education, the more you learn, the more you want to learn. The more you know, the less you think you know. It’s one of those paradoxical and self-deprecating cycles that actually makes you better off in the end. However, one of the most exhilarating things I’ve learned about continuing education is that you don’t have to be in a class or a classroom. Most of the learning I do currently is not in a classroom and there’s very little face-time in graduate school. Sure, a class provides the structure and pressure to learn new things. BUT, there’s actually only one person who’s learning for you, and that’s you.

Liberal Arts Doubters Will Be Doubters, Don’t Believe Them
The most famous, and most annoying remark that will follow you with a liberal arts degree is, “So what are you going to do with that?” It’s a legitimate question; it’s just the utter skepticism that’s self-defeating. As someone with an English major, I should know (maybe the Philosophy and Theater majors got it more, but I’d say we’re even). Anyway, my point is, those who doubt the purpose of a liberal arts degree probably never had that experience or perspective. Therefore, you can either a) brush it off, or b) offer an explanation of how it will help you. I can say with utmost certainty that I do not regret and wouldn’t do-over my liberal arts degree. I use it way too much to give it up or trade it in: thinking critically, questioning norms, researching new topics, or debating the ethics of something. I seriously do use it all the time.

Life Changes, People Don’t
Okay, maybe we change a little, but I’m not putting money on it. There’ve been numerous occasions where I’ve wanted to change some piece of me. For instance, over-booking myself. I’m fairly sure I’ve concluded that, “I’ll never do that again” about 5 times now. How many times does Pavlov have to ring the bell before I get the picture? However, this isn’t just me. I’ve learned that I shouldn’t expect people to change. Give them room to grow and the option to change, but don’t anticipate that they will. Although Pavlov takes about 5 times for me to teach myself, I can retrain myself much faster than expecting others to change.

Tragic Life Event, No More Cheese
While running out of cheese is a true tragedy, my point here is that it’s usually not as earth shattering as it first seems. Believe me, that bad exam score still brings a stab to the chest and my Cortisol levels are through the roof, but I’ve gotten better at getting over it. Sometimes it’s no longer a thing you can change, and sometimes it never was. Being okay with that, and knowing my memory is poor enough that the crushing tragedy of the event will fade with time, has gotten me through plenty this past year.

Clear With A Chance of Confetti
As I continue on course toward graduating with my Library and Information Science Masters in August, I have a lot to be happy about. I’ve learned so much in the past year, met some awesome people, accomplished things I never even considered, and realized that I can do just fine establishing myself in a city where I know no one. However, I didn’t get here alone and I wouldn’t be here, nor who I am, without the influence and support of all the people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing in my life. Ripon College contributed four years of education, friendship, and opportunities. The other day after I had met with a student for an instruction session he said, “in the short time that we had, I feel like we covered a lot.” I don’t think I could say it any more succinctly and that’s how I feel about my experience at Ripon. Thanks for reading, it’s been a pleasure, and I wish you the best in your own future endeavors.

Elizabeth H. Brown ’13
[email protected]

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