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This Time I Can Fly: Excerpt from AA Class Speaker Rose Li’s Address

Each month, the Newsroom publishes commentary by the leadership at Bard College at Simon’s Rock. This ongoing series, called Perspectives, is one way in which the College adds its voice to important conversations in higher education.

For the 2008-2009 year, Perspectives will address different aspects of the early college movement. All of these pieces draw from—and reflect on—the accumulated knowledge of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, founded in 1966 as the nation’s first early college. Since that time, interest in early college has blossomed. Hundreds of early college programs now exist—serving diverse needs through a variety of program structures in an array of settings. Within this vibrant landscape, Simon’s Rock remains not only the pioneering institution, but the nation’s only college of liberal arts and sciences expressly designed to educate students early. This is the unique, time-tested perspective that Simon’s Rock brings.

This Time I Can Fly
Excerpt from AA Class Speaker Rose Li’s Address

When I came to Simon’s Rock, I came searching for something that I didn’t know existed. I wasn’t searching for a major. Nope, I had that in mind long ago. Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. I knew what I wanted, and I thought coming to Simon’s Rock was the way to get there. During the Writing and Thinking Workshop, when everyone joked about not knowing what to study or what classes to pick, I secretly gloated because I had known since 7th grade.

During my first focused free-write with James King, when everyone divulged their greatest anxieties about college life, I wrote about the white, cotton-soft clouds shielding the sun, the little blossoms of white that provided shade in the heat and poured down water for life. I wrote that I wished that I had wings strong enough to fly with them, so that I could feel their freedom and experience their view of the world from above. Cheesy? Yes, I know, but they were the only things that I saw as I stared out the classroom window. What saddens me in retrospect, though, is recalling that writing that paragraph was the first time I carefully wrote about anything that I thought deeply about in many years.

This moment and many other moments in that week, in that month, in that semester slowly freed me from those shackles that I never knew I was bound to. Just like the blinded men in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” I didn’t recognize my ignorance at first. The recognition happened over time, as I proceeded through the First Year Seminar courses and took classes in Chinese, in Spanish, in Music, in Studio Arts, and in Philosophy. Somewhere along the way, I began to see that I wasn’t the same student who first walked onto Simon’s Rock’s campus late August in 2006.

I had become a thinker. A reader. A writer. An open-minded intellectual who appreciated the value of a liberal arts education. I never stopped loving those microbes that I fell in love with at the age of twelve, but I have realized that I also love to sing, to write, and to philosophize. I saw again in myself that fire, that passion, that desire to learn new things—a part of me that had not been dead, but asleep, once estivating, and now reawoken. When I examine scientific and mathematic concepts now, I don’t consider them purely in its empirical forms. I think outside the box. I think about real-life applications, historical backgrounds, and their social and moral impact on our future.

When I look out the window of my car as I leave our beautiful campus today, I will see again those white clouds that greeted me two years ago.

And you know what?

This time I can fly. This time I know my wings are strong enough to soar into my future.