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Senior Rachel Feltman Looks Back

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Rachel Feltman 1I'm an average Simon's Rock student, or at least I was until May 19th. Average is a relative term. Outside of The Rock, I'm decidedly not average in terms of taste, academic performance, and character. I'm decidedly odd. At Simon's Rock, however, we are all (as Anne O'Dwyer, our Academic Dean, is fond of saying), “at least three standard deviations from the mean”.

So, yeah, at Simon's Rock I'm pretty much normal. I arrived at sixteen, having attended two unique but equally disheartening high schools. Like a lot of my fellow students, I was looking for the academic challenge that I had never found in the outside world. More importantly, I was looking for some kind of peace; an intellectual community that I could respect, and that would respect me.

Year one went by in a flash of relief and happiness. The year has melted together in memory, but I know I enjoyed it. From my first Seminar class, when Chris Callanan had us do a focused free write on some obtuse subject like “morality”, I knew I was where I needed to be. Simon's Rock isn't a perfect school, but for some of us it's a perfect fit.

For my first two years at Simon's Rock, I was still thinking of it in terms of an exit strategy. I went to The Rock because it had allowed me to leave high school early. I liked going there, but I never thought of it as a place where I would spend four years. Then I left, and I realized what an amazing school it really is.

Simon's Rock is amazing for allowing students to go to college when they're ready, but it's also just an amazing school. Trust me, I've been on the outside. You don't want to go out there; the classes are abysmal and the people are boring. Perhaps my recent graduation is making me overly sentimental, but I can't believe how much I got out of my degree at Simon's Rock. I learned things. Learning things should be a guarantee at college, but I'm sure you know that isn't the case.

I didn't just learn about environmental studies either. I learned about fungi and Chinese theater, “Doctor Who”, making ganache, having friends, and loving nature. I know it's normal to change a lot between ages sixteen and twenty, but I can't help but think that Simon's Rock (the students, the faculty and staff, even the campus itself) made a powerful, lasting impact on the person I've become.

Rachel Feltman 2After a year of tearing my hair out over my thesis, commencement arrived all too quickly. My status as a former transfer student made the situation even more surreal. After all, I already said goodbye to Simon's Rock “for good” once before, and I ended up coming back. When I sat on Blodgett lawn waiting to receive my BA, I had to keep reminding myself that, no, Simon's Rock doesn't have a graduate program (yet) and that I really couldn't come back. Not as a student, in any case.

Leon spoke about forgetting, which I know for a fact was also the topic of his speech two years ago. I remember, because I found it really ironic; at my 8th grade graduation, my favorite teacher spoke on the nature of memory. It's hard to forget someone telling you that you definitely won't remember something.

I'll never forget my time at Simon's Rock. Every high and every low was a formative experience, and that’s something I'll cherish forever.