The list goes on and on and on. From the inappropriate SAT and family financial status questions to the unanswerable “How did you get in?” (wouldn’t I like to know) question to the much more normal college experience questions, we get these a lot. Just ask my teammate, who, during our tournament, was literally followed around a Goodwill store between games by members of a certain men’s club basketball team who wanted desperately to know her SAT score (and probably her number, but that’s a different story). However, this time what really struck me about her questions was the never asked, but very much underlying question, “What is Harvard?”
However, there is a greater word that connects history and excellence, and likely encompasses most other adjectives that one could find to describe Harvard. That word is veritas. Engraved on our gates, our statues, and even our waffles, Harvard’s motto, fittingly, provides an overarching description for the college. Students and faculty are supposed to achieve excellence through the pursuit of greater truth. Our research is done to reveal previously unknown truth. Our classes are taken to help increase our knowledge base and hone our personal perception of truth. Our extracurriculars enhance that perception of truth by expanding our minds. Finally, our careers hopefully help to further global truth or at least promote truth in the fields in which we work.
The afternoon after that was one I’ll never forget. I shouted to my mom over the balcony and she came running into our living room in disbelief. Then she and my younger brother started to do what could only be described as a touchdown dance, while I called my dad who was travelling for work. When I got his voicemail, I left him a composed message and proceeded to call him another five times, more excited each time. My life changed dramatically at that moment. I went from being a high school student who had the world in front of her to a high school senior who had the world through Harvard glasses in front of her. At the time, though, I really had no idea what I would see through those glasses.
In light of the Crimson article “Bring Back Banter” that was published last weekend and several other recent pieces about student life and student happiness, perhaps the Harvard student body could use some of my mom’s advice as well. Are we so caught up in our own lives that we’ve forgotten how to be interested in the lives of others?