by Josh Daube ‘11
When Forbes magazine released its first edition of “Forbes 30 Under 30” list, some of us were amazed to find four Bard College at Simon’s Rock alumni on the list.
For a small school, Simon’s Rock has always offered a surprising range of concentrations, and a wide variety of talents in its student body and faculty. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that our alumni are well represented in the special news feature chronicling 30 distinguished under-30-year-olds in 12 diverse categories, including not only commercial industries, but art and science as well. According to Forbes, the list is designed by “readers and industry experts,” with the goal of creating a list of “Who, in short, under the age of 30, matters?”
Simon’s Rock faculty treats all students as though they matter, and as it turns out, Forbes agrees. Four alumni won spots on the list: Ronan Farrow ’99, Claire Rosen ’01, Kyle Allison ’01, and Jessica Mah ’06. Given Simon’s Rock’s relatively small class size, having four students on the list is a testament to the school’s entrepreneurial nature.
The idea of "Forbes 30 under 30" list is a natural fit for an institution like Simon’s Rock, an institution that clearly values the initiative of young adults. But it’s not necessarily the nature of Simon’s Rock as an early college that leads to success, as Kyle Allison pointed out, but the knowledge that you can further yourself when you feel ready and capable. “I've heard but don't buy the 'start college early, accomplish things early' argument.” Kyle Allison ’01 says “Life's not a race and getting 'two years ahead' isn't an advantage later on: it's the experience that counts.”
The ability to engage at a higher level when ready was crucial to all of the alumni I talked to, and they often echoed the sentiments that Jessica Mah ’06 put best, “I went to SRC because high school was boring and a total waste of time. Why spend four years in high school when you could just go straight to college?” For some of them, going to college early meant being able to engage in their interests at a level higher than was offered at high school.
For Claire Rosen ’01, this wasn’t exactly the case. She came to Simon’s Rock with an interest in painting and sculpture, and only later in her college career did she come upon photography, the medium on which she has based her career, and, for which she subsequently earned her Forbes's 30 Under 30 recognition.
Their accomplishments are formidable: Jessica Mah and Claire Rosen both operate their own businesses, Ronan Farrow works for Hilary Clinton as a special advisor, and Kyle Allison has won awards for his research into infection fighting strategies. But at one time or another, all of them had experiences similar to the students attending Simon’s Rock today. They lived in the dormitories, took classes with the teachers they liked (Kyle Allison’s favorite teacher was Emmanuel Dongala, who still teaches chemistry and francophone studies), and ate at the dining hall.
Although the Simon’s Rock experience itself varies widely (Ronan Farrow for instance undertook the highly unusual educational route of entering college at age 11), the value is the agency and autonomy that an institution like Simon’s Rock nurtures. The College does not simply give a man a fish ̵̵̵̶ or an enthusiastic 15 year old a microscope ̵̵̵̶ it offers the best fishing lessons. Our 30 Under 30 alumni continue to fish.