Why Northwestern?

By Hannah Kliot

2014-03-29-201307171011914_4950269116358_176436841_nJunior year: I am in my bed reading Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, my mind wrestling to understand how two people could conspire to kill so many people. After reading Capote’s book, I begin to explore another massacre – Columbine – and, after devouring articles, books and movies on the event, I ultimately write my final English paper comparing the two tragedies. I was not always confident expressing my original ideas and analyses. I began my first year at Dalton as a timid English student, often afraid of my own narrative voice. Hard work and great teachers helped me develop into a passionate and confident writer who only writes a thesis statement after considering many perspectives that challenge my initial assumptions.

After taking an Urban Studies class through the Global Online Academy last spring, I could not help but wonder: What kind of student I would have become if I were solely dependent on the dollar menu at McDonald’s to satisfy my hunger?  My growth as a writer has never been compromised by nutrition. Many experts focus on test scores and classroom size when they consider the achievement gap in education. But what about the role of nutrition in educational disparities? How can limited access to fresh produce with vital nutrients impact the learning potential of children?  I am eager to bring these questions to SOCIOL 311 Food, Politics, and Society with Professor Susan Thistle and other classes in the Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences to explore cities and the American future.

My fascination with urban America prompted my own research on nutrition and access to fresh food in cities as part of my Urban Studies class. Our class worked on solving problems specific to different urban communities. Through the class, I explored highway pollution in Portland, Oregon; drug violence in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and food deserts in New York City. I see Northwestern as an ideal place to continue these investigations and grow as an urbanist with a focus on a new, large, midwestern city. My interest in these areas draws me to the Weinberg School’s departments of Global Health, Urban Studies, and Sociology.

The Chicago Field Studies concentration in Weinberg is an exciting option for a student with my interests and background in the social sciences in that my classroom experience would extend beyond the campus and into the city. I could focus on social justice, intern at a nonprofit or community-based organization and make a tangible impact on urban challenges. This would be a natural progression from my active participation in my school’s Habitat for Humanity chapter, in which I helped organize advocacy trips to Albany and D.C. to build affordable housing and prevent foreclosures.

My interest in science, and specifically my current biotechnology class, has sensitized me to the ethical challenges of scientific solutions to urban American problems. Our class recently researched different types of biofuels as alternative energy sources, which was a way to apply the information we had been learning in the classroom to real-world challenges. Classes offered in Weinberg such as Global Bioethics and Health, Biomedicine, Culture, and Society could give me further knowledge on the obstacles that scientists must surmount to be as effective as possible in our society. I could discuss and research solutions to these challenges with professors such as Michael Diamond, who specializes in Global Health Studies and has taught Managing Global Health Challenges.

As someone who enjoys writing, I am also eager to explore multiple platforms through which I can share my work on urban life. I am drawn to Northwestern because of the opportunity to take journalism classes in the Medill School of Journalism, which would complement my studies in Weinberg.  This would give me the chance to combine my love for writing and journalism with my passion for social sciences, urban studies, legal studies, and the Portuguese language and culture. Northwestern is a place where my many interests are not a hindrance in choosing between classes and programs, but rather a place where combining these interests is encouraged. Weinberg has a distinctly strong focus on undergraduate research in the social sciences. The annual Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition celebrates this research. The Weinberg School is also one of the few schools across the country that offers a minor in Portuguese and Lusophone Cultures, a concentration that I am passionate about and hope to pursue.

While Northwestern’s proximity to Chicago has a great influence on my desire to attend the school, its location in the smaller town of Evanston is just as appealing to me. The sudden transition from a bustling city to beautiful, quiet suburbs on the North Shore is a welcome contrast from the completely urban environment that I grew up with in New York City. A smaller college town setting with easy access to a large city provides the best of both worlds, a distinguishing quality of Northwestern.

Northwestern’s size is distinctive in that it has all of the resources of a larger university while maintaining strong, personal professor-student relationships that I find crucial for successful educational development. Students’ happiness and passion were evident throughout my visit. My tour guide Mariana beamed as she explained all of the unique academic, social, and internship opportunities that she had at Northwestern. Students smiled walking past us on Sheridan Road, eagerly anticipating their athletic commitments, lunch with friends, or office hours with a professor. Everyone seemed to have a place in the school, and all students are brought together through the numerous academic, cultural, athletic, and social offerings. After all, where else can thousands of undergraduate students come together for a thirty-hour Dance Marathon to benefit a charitable cause? This event epitomizes the large impact that Northwestern has due to its number of undergraduates while simultaneously maintaining the feeling of a tight-knit community. Whether it is dressing up in all purple to cheer on the Wildcats, working on a group project with friends during lunch in Norris, or exploring restaurants in the town of Evanston and in the greater city of Chicago, there is no place where I would rather spend my next four years.

Hannah Kliot is a graduate of the Dalton School and is currently a Freshman at Northwestern University.

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