Hannah Moderow

from Hannah Moderow, alumna: … Atheneum offers a different educational route-- one that is not necessarily superior, but one which sends its students out in the world with a unique and invaluable passion for learning. I graduated from Atheneum in 2002.  A few months later, I began my undergraduate life at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.  College is the land of studying what you want to study, and I was excited to indulge in my favorite subjects-- English, art history, dance and foreign languages.  What could be better? Cornell exceeded all my expectations as an academic institution.  The professors challenged me in ways that kept me forever on my toes.  Pulling all-nighters to write the perfect paper was a common practice, and I often found myself rummaging through the basement of Cornell’s many libraries to find the obscure book that would boost my research project. I arrived at Cornell ready to work hard, and I was overwhelmed by the endless study possibilities.  It was at times daunting to write an A paper or just stay afloat on an exam, but I loved the challenge.  The life of reading, writing and working with talented professors seemed like the ultimate privilege.What came as a bit of a surprise, however, was the general attitude towards learning on the part of fellow students. For many, college was a set of requirements that needed to be mastered so that future careers and income brackets could be attained.  Although I always knew that education could lead to quality job opportunities, I never believed this was its sole purpose. There was one essential ingredient missing from some in the student body: love of learning.  I fear that much of our generation views learning as a tool for getting a job, and not as a platform for discussion, inspiration and the pursuit of knowledge.  Learning is something to be done, and not a life to be lived. I realize that careers are important, and school will not always be fun, easy or even intellectually stimulating.  I thank Atheneum for teaching me that it is worth it to endure tough times of your education, in order to enjoy the rewards of something as simple as discovering a new idea, principle or work of literature.  Undoubtedly, the passionate learner will contribute great things to whatever they pursue.  But without the passion, what would be the reward? At the end of the day, it is not what you know that determines happiness-- it is how much passion you have for things known and unknown.  I thank Atheneum for showing me that learning is the ultimate practice from which joy, knowledge, and a brilliant future flow.
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