God, Sophists, and Planetary Motion
Written by Kokko Tso
Kristiana Mork, ’17, is a George Washington Fellow majoring in politics and speech.
Although Kristiana Mork currently plans to double major in Politics and Speech, her first encounter with both subjects in high school debate was less than favorable.
“My parents told me I had to do two years of high school debate, and initially, I hated it. I wanted to do something more artsy, like creative writing or dance,” she laughs. “However, I grew to love debate, especially the public policy elements of it. I actually cried at the end of the two years and told my parents, ‘I need to keep doing this!’”
It was in this context that Kristiana first heard about Hillsdale College. Her debate coach recommended that she consider applying to Hillsdale, so she decided to visit campus during her junior year. During this visit, she had a transformational conversation with Fred Schebor, Associate Director of Admissions Marketing.
“Mr. Schebor and I talked about understanding truth outside Christianity and free will,” she recounts. “It was fascinating to hear him approach our discussion from a philosophical perspective, as opposed to a religious one, though he did stress the connection between these things and Judeo-Christian values. Coming from a strong faith background, I was primarily looking at applying to Christian colleges. However, even though Hillsdale is not a church-affiliated school, I was struck by how Mr. Schebor and the students that I met talked about things like truth, goodness, beauty, theology, morality, and religion. The environment here was intellectually stimulating, and I knew that it would strengthen my faith as well. Compared to some of the Christian colleges I had visited, the students and faculty here seemed so much more alive in their faith, and I decided that I wanted to be a part of the Hillsdale College community.”
Kristiana laughs when asked about her classes. “Right now I’m taking Western Traditions of Rhetoric, and we’re reading a ton of classical authors on the art of rhetoric. Then, back-to-back, I have Philosophy 101, in which we see Socrates blast the very same sophists I was just studying! It’s a great dynamic, and one of my favorite things about a liberal arts education: you develop a truly well-rounded perspective.”
Interestingly, especially for someone majoring in the Humanities, Kristiana says that her favorite class is Physical Science, one of the core requirements for all Hillsdale students. Whereas some might find the natural science course requirement to be a distraction from their chosen fields, Kristiana felt that this class enhanced her education. “I’m not a science person, but Dr. Hayes presented the world to us in such a different, compelling way. I love studying philosophy as a Politics and Speech major, but it’s very different from the amazement that you feel when you see the Milky Way for the first time, or the satisfaction you get when you begin to comprehend how the planets move. Dr. Hayes opened up a whole new dimension in my understanding of world around me.”
Kristiana really lights up when she talks about student life at Hillsdale. “I love the community here. You really get the sense that we’re all in this together. My roommate and I are in the same philosophy class, so we’ll both stay up late discussing what we’re reading. She’s a Socratic, while I tend to be more Aristotelian, so we go back and forth for hours on the merits of rhetoric and oration. At some point during this discussion, several friends will pop in, and the discussion will move to how philosophy relates to organic chemistry, or music, or whatever they are studying. My room gets crowded, but it’s so much fun!”
Between pursuing a double major, working in the George Washington Fellowship Program, competing on the Mock Trial Team, and participating in the ballet programs on campus, Kristiana is a typical busy Hillsdale College student. But despite the enormous work load and the challenges of balancing her many activities, Kristiana genuinely enjoys her Hillsdale College experience. “Hillsdale has been everything for which I’ve hoped and dreamed. Classes are challenging, but the professors strive to make sure you learn and enjoy the process. Every Hillsdale student talks about how they’re crazy busy and all over the place – but it’s a good kind of crazy busy, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”