Hometown: Denver, Colo.
Major: Comparative Literature (Russian and French)
Where she went during college: Moscow, Russia; Rennes, France
Where she’s going next: Tanzania, Africa
What she’ll do there: Write literature for a non-profit eye care clinic, climb Mount Kilimanjaro
On finding her place: At Beloit, I found people who talked about things I wanted to talk about: things like feminism and meaningful living. It was hard to find people to talk to in high school. I was always the crazy feminist who never had the right clothes. Then I came to Beloit and realized: There are no ‘right’ clothes! The world opened in a big way.
On preparing to go other places: I majored in Russian, so I spent a semester in Moscow. Moscow was intimidating in the way any new city is intimidating; I didn’t know my way around. But it wasn’t the language that made it scary. I felt very prepared because I had had four years of Russian through Beloit’s Center for Language Studies. Three of us who went to Moscow had just finished fourth-year Russian before we left, and we were by far the best speakers.
Why Beloit’s Center for Language Studies program is fun (in the way that only 40-plus hour weeks of intense learning can be): It’s fun, but not in the conventional sense. It’s fun because you are making noticeable progress at a remarkable rate. You see a highly visible return on your investment, which is sometimes difficult to get with language.
How Maryn’s friends become teachers: I was lucky to have friends who didn’t think academics happened only in the classroom. We talked about academic things all the time. We talked about other things, too, of course. But it’s a mistake to enter college and think the classroom will be where most of your learning happens because—while it’s where a lot of your learning happens—learning isn’t confined to that location.
How she got involved with causes that matter: I was involved with every women’s group on campus, including the Women’s Center and Girl’s Empowerment through Mentoring. I also produced A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer and The Vagina Monologues during Sexual Assault Awareness Week.
Her next important cause: I’m going to Tanzania to compile case studies for a grant-funded eye care clinic. It’s working to prevent blindness in poor areas; people who go there can’t afford things like glasses. I’m excited to help out, and I’m also excited to climb Mount Kilimanjaro!
Her advice to prospective students: Approach your education as a device of self-discovery. You’re not supposed to leave the liberal arts saying, ‘I have vocational training for X.’ Once you have a basis of understanding—critical thinking, how to ask questions, and what it means to search for answers—you can add vocational training. You’re not supposed to know what you want to do right away; knowing who you are is a much more important pursuit. I think Beloit prioritizes self-discovery in a remarkably meaningful way.