Undergraduate Student Blog, Speaking of Princeton

Undergraduate Student Blog

Author: Peyton Lawrenz ’19

Santa Fe, New Mexico • Politics View Profile

Intellectual Roots

The people, places and things that have emboldened my curiosity
I owe my intellectual curiosity to my parents, who patiently waited as I waded through books in the now-defunct Borders bookstore that I considered my own.  
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Potter, who encouraged (and required) each of us to engage in “Super Quiet Uninterrupted Reading Time,” (affectionately called “SQUIRT”) every single day. 
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to Homer's "The Odyssey." I read it for the first time in 9th grade and have read it four times since. 
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to Gabriel García Márquez and "One Hundred Years of Solitude." It is a book that transformed my values and challenged my perceptions. I read it every year, and it changes me every time I read it.  
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to Leo Tolstoy — "Anna Karenina" and "War and Peace" were my solace in the spring semester of my senior year in high school. 
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to my home — Santa Fe, New Mexico. There, I saw so many different remnants of history and culture and diversity. There, I saw socioeconomic inequality, an ever-growing achievement gap and intolerance. Even living thousands of miles away, Santa Fe continues to ground me and remind me how I should understand my values. 
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to “Ethics and Public Policy,” taught by Professor Stephen Macedo, which challenged me to confront entirely unfamiliar questions and decisions. It made me uncomfortable; it made me feel nervous, and it made me grow, adapt and learn.
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to the Humanities Sequence, a double-credit intensive survey course of the Western cannon, which introduced me to a brief glimpse of the expansive oeuvre of Western literature. I saw passion in every professor who taught the course. I saw passion in every student who gladly read 26 books each semester.
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to “American Realism and the Perils of Painting” with Professor Rachael DeLue, where I was exposed to bodies of knowledge and conceptual approaches to questions completely new to me. 
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to Professor Christian Wildberg and to Athens, Greece, where I participated in a PIIRS Princeton Global Seminar. Our sole obligation was to learn and observe and question. 
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to "Constitutional Interpretation." I toiled and groaned as I carried my heavy law-school-like textbook like a security blanket. I cried in frustration when I received poor grades on pieces of work to which I had dedicated immense time, energy and heart, and I called my dad in triumph to discuss good feedback on one of my last assignments. My dad congratulated me, and I told him I will not be going to law school. 
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to the students that I teach as an English as a Second Language (ESL) tutor. Our students dedicate the time to come to class every week in order to improve their grasp of a language and a culture that so often declares that they are unwelcome. Every week, I am humbled by their incredible ambition and genuine care.
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to Professor Dennis Feeney and Professor Alberto Rigolio, who guided me, along with a group of twelve peers to Pompei and Rome in pursuit of knowledge and truth. (I also owe my intellectual curiosity to my 9th grade World History teacher, Coco Rae, who introduced me to the Roman world.)
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity to the courses that I’ve loved, to those that I’ve abhorred and to those that have challenged my knowledge, values,and beliefs. I owe my intellectual curiosity to the teachers and professors who helped implant and foster pieces of knowledge in me, to the teachers and professors that I could not communicate with effectively and to the professors that I hope to get to know.
 
I owe my intellectual curiosity, in many ways, to Princeton.