COURTESY OF PATAFISIK/CC BY-SA 3.0
Each of us is a puzzle made up of pieces of those that have inspired us .
Pre-Hopkins, whenever I was asked who my role models were, my answer was immediate; almost mechanically, I would respond with, “my mother and Audrey Hepburn.” One from real life who taught me what it is to be both strong and kind, and one who taught me what grace and elegance are but whose character I could only infer from others’ encounters.
Since coming here, however, my answer has become far less automatic. More often than not, I find myself looking to some less expected candidates for inspiration. Professors and staff members definitely fall in to this category. For example, an advisor to a student organization that can never be seen without a warm smile, a funky shirt and a sunny disposition I can only aspire to.
But it goes much deeper than that. What was once “What would Audrey do?” has turned into “What would Professor Serra do?” The distinct gender imbalance in my class of physics majors makes her status as the first female professor all the more notable. Yet it’s her ability to command a classroom that makes her a truly unparalleled teacher.
When witnessing a situation where someone is being unkind, I still think of my grandmother, but now I also turn to the example of my boss. In the same way that my grandmother can’t tolerate injustice, rather than letting them pass, he cannot stand by while visitors behave rudely, instead, taking matters into his own hands.
Neither of them ever loses an ounce of class, remaining calm and courteous through even the most stressful of situations. Yet they still are able to successfully intervene, correcting the situation while ensuring that everyone walks away feeling satisfied.
If I’m losing motivation to work at a class that has nothing to do with my major or future career, I look to the lovely woman in my Greek class that is proof that a love of learning is one of the most valuable assets we can possess and that there is never a right or wrong time to learn something new for inspiration.
Of course, my true day-to-day role models are the people I spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with: my friends. When I don’t want to leave my all-too-cozy bed at 7:30 in the morning, I think about Julie, who has undoubtedly already taught a fitness class and made herself a healthy and rewarding protein shake by that time.
If it’s been a rough week or I’ve just sat through a seemingly unfair midterm, I look to Gavin, who has undoubtedly experienced the exact same thing but somehow maintains a calm head throughout, never seeming to panic while simultaneously balancing his academic commitments and social life flawlessly.
It really is the people that you surround yourself with that shape you, and this is all the more imperative in college as these are such formative years. Having people who motivate and challenge you and at the same time will be there to support you is the most rewarding part of this experience. And when we find ourselves thinking of someone in particular when faced with adversity, it’s important to reflect on why they surfaced in our minds. These are our role models, and the aspects of them we admire are what make us up; as if each positive quality is a puzzle piece that comes together to create our unique person.
Maintaining positivity is a great thing to do, but we wouldn’t be where we are without our negative experiences as well. There have been times in my life where I’ve watched a person react in an extremely unprofessional or even disrespectful way to challenging circumstances, and I find that it’s equally important to take note of the characteristics of such hostile reactions. What made it seem so harsh? How did others respond?
This way, if I’m faced with a similar situation, I know what not to do because I’ve been on the other side of it. Some of our puzzle pieces are inevitably going to be darker, but we can brighten the picture as much as possible by learning from others’ mistakes.
As cheesy as this is going to sound, I’m so grateful to be going through this at Hopkins. Don’t get me wrong, I still look up to my mother and Audrey Hepburn more than almost anyone else, but I continuously find new people to admire whose personality traits I would like to embody in my day-to-day life. Between the examples of the people who work here and our peers who also attend the University, we’re all in pretty good shape to become fantastic people; this campus is truly a mosaic of beautiful puzzles.