7 pm. Sunset. Chicago’s skyline is an ember burning out, its oranges and pinks give way to rich dark blues. The trains come by like clockwork, rattling along industrial steel. The smell of homemade quiche offsets the city’s sweat after a long day.
I am reflecting on this post-it note whirlwind of a week sitting among friends who were strangers only a week ago. I am struck by the power I feel in myself and in each of them. This powerful feeling, this rooftop view, and this enchanting evening of sharing would have never happened if I had not chosen to take a leap.
One phrase pulls me out of my thought bubbles and back to the group:
“… live with the courage of doing.”
These words delivered by Pilu, my coach and mentor for this year, setting the tone for this year of doing.
So what exactly am I doing this year?
I am prototyping and sharing what a year of self-directed learning for a (not quite) college graduate might look like. This year I am ditching the idea of a GPA and replacing that arbitrary number with a portfolio. I aim to fill that portfolio with apprenticeships in which I integrate my knowledge of psychology with user-centered design and educational reform.
Alongside Ei and my 13 classmates friends, I am creating my own roadmap to success. I am getting comfortable with feeling uncomfortable, with sharing myself, with being totally organic and raw and understood. I am getting used to the juxtaposition of finding that homemade quiche feeling in foreign environments.
For my first term at Ei, I will be a dual student. In addition to being a student at Ei I am also an undergraduate at Illinois Wesleyan University. During my first trimester with Ei and my final semester at IWU, I will conduct user-centered research to extract the stories and struggles of current undergraduate students. By the end of the trimester I hope to understand when and how experiential learning opportunities might supplement traditional schooling so as to help students explore and pursue their passions.
Later in the year I hope to work with companies like IDEO and Junior who utilize multidisciplinary teams, design thinking, and user-centered design to properly identify true problems and generate solutions based on what real people need. I hope to play a role in the reshaping of education and help instill a yearning for learning in students of all ages.
This year is going to be transformative. I’m excited to see what opportunities come my way and to challenge myself as I venture into the unknown.