Yesterday was my one-year anniversary on the Wabash campus, and such a milestone served as a good time to hit the brakes and reflect on the knowledge gained in the last 365 days I’ve managed to put in the rear-view mirror.
I’ve asked a series of questions in every Wabash interview I’ve done in that time. A stream-of-consciousness thing, quick thoughts to see how people think. On this occasion, I felt like looking at the wisdom of the answers to one question in particular:
What advice would you give your 10-year-old self?
The answers loosely fell into three categories: don’t take life to seriously, try new things, and work hard.
That’s simple, right? Not exactly.
Ivan Koutsopatriy ‘16.
With a year to reflect and a little institutional knowledge now working to my advantage, each answer now carries a little more weight.
The guys who fell into the “don’t take life too seriously category” are some of the most focused and driven people around, like Ivan Koutsopatriy ‘16, Scott Purucker ‘16, Derrick Li ‘14, Jared Lang ‘08, and Brent Bolick ‘91.
Koutsopatriy simply stated, “Do you,” when I asked him that question. Sage advice from a guy who was described as having “a core of energy that is just bottomless,” according to chemistry professor Lon Porter.
Those who championed new experiences relied on the benefits of lessons learned.
Brian Kopp ‘98, a senior vice president for sports solutions at STATS, Inc., said, “Don’t be afraid to try new things and to make mistakes because sometimes that’s when you learn the most.”
He’s a guy who is using captured data to change the way NBA head coaches, some of the most regimented people you’ll ever meet, think and analyze the game.
“Take advantage of a lot of different opportunities,” said Steve Ganson ‘73, who has officiated high school basketball for 37 years. “Don’t let something strange scare you away,”
Those are words of wisdom from a Wally who caught the officiating bug during his Wabash days as a manager when the basketball coach suggested he referee the team scrimmages even though he had zero experience and admits now that he didn’t know much about the game back then.
Acclaimed artist and art advocate Matthew Deleget ‘94 took a more practical role in advice distribution, stating, “There is virtue in working hard and people who work hard have greater insights into things.”
“Study as a hard as possible,” was the response from biology and German double major Jingwei Song ‘15.
While insights gained from studying more and working hard are undoubtedly beneficial, I’ll end with the thoughts of Emmanuel Aouad ‘10, who said, “Do everything exactly the same and you’re going to be all right.”
I’m still not certain whether Emmanuel intended to deliver such a thought in the hopeful regard that we all eventually find our passion, or that he was experienced enough to be patting himself on the back. In true Wabash fashion, he delivered it with a smile and all the confidence to say there wasn’t a wrong interpretation.
That reminds me of something a professor announced to the class on my first day of graduate school. “There are no wrong answers here,” he said. “You will only be judged by how intelligently you defend your positions.”
My education continues. On to year two.