The Truth, Goodness, and Beauty of Life as a Hillsdale Student
Written by Victoria Barry
“The pursuit of truth, the love of the good, and the cultivation of the beautiful.” This is what every Hillsdale student promises to pursue when he or she takes the Freshman Pledge. The true, the good, and the beautiful are what Hillsdale is all about.
A genuine passion for learning and an eagerness to better our minds, hearts, and souls (even, sometimes, at the expense of our GPAs) characterize Hillsdale students. There have been so many times here where a friend or mentor has told me, “You should do such-and-such; it will be good for your soul.” Not, “You should do this because it’s easy,” or “You should do this because it makes you feel good.” At Hillsdale, we do what we do because it is good and therefore worthy of pursuit.
Dr. Stephen Smith is well-known on campus for being a challenging English professor, but for it is for this very reason that students clamor to take his classes. He expects a lot from his students and invests his time and talent, during class and in his office, towards helping every one of them improve and succeed. If I had wanted to do what was easy instead of what was truly good, I would never have taken Dr. Smith’s Great Books classes. But then I may never have further developed my writing abilities. I may never have discovered my longing to study English literature.
I deeply cherish the experiences and knowledge I acquired during those two semesters. Dr. Smith’s enthusiasm, penetrating questions and observations, and priceless anecdotes not only encouraged me to work hard but also inspired me to delve into the literature and enjoy it.
I wasn’t alone in this endeavor. My roommate was also in this class, and we read several of the assigned books out loud to each other. After reading Austen’s Pride and Prejudice out loud with copious amounts of laughter at Mrs. Bennett’s absurdity, we spent a Friday evening writing a parody of Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Ever Ever Getting Back Together” about Lizzy Bennett’s rejection of Mr. Collins – okay, so we’re a little nerdy, but it was so much fun!
Over the past three years I have grown to love the challenge of Hillsdale College. I may or may not have cried after receiving the grade of my first English essay. However, I pulled myself together and worked diligently to improve my writing. Those laborious hours of pouring over the text and drafting and re-drafting thesis sentences opened the door to many exciting truths that I may never have pondered otherwise.
The laughter and the tears, the late night chats with friends and the late-night study sessions, the joy and the pain of learning have both become dear to me. It is through the challenges as well as the moments of joy that we experience the truth, goodness, and beauty of human life. Hillsdale abounds in these rich experiences that naturally develop as a result of liberal education.
Victoria Barry, ’16, is majoring in English with a classical education minor. She is the president of the A.A. Milne Society, an editor for the Tower Light, an active member of the Catholic Society, and a volunteer at Mary Randall Preschool.