BREATHING IN: HAPPY TOGETHER
Mike Lipsitz, who just graduated from Joel Barlow High School in eastern Fairfield County, Connecticut, was most impressed by the warmth and helpfulness he found on campus: "Like when I was moving in [to Gummere], maybe ten people — I'm not exaggerating — were jumping to help me unload." And this didn't count the Customs people — upperclassmen assigned to assist freshmen formally. "I guess I was struck immediately by the enthusiasm and the communal aspect of the place..." A lingering manifestation of the Quaker attitudes that form the basis of Haverford's philosophy.
"During Customs Week, you just felt so close, so fast. I remember these sessions where a group of us would start talking about — you know — your family life and all. I mean telling really personal things, getting it out there...It struck me — maybe because my parents had just separated, and because a friend had passed away, died in a car crash...it helped to hear how others were doing with their families and friends..." And because the exchanges were so genuine. Haverford seemed immediately more mature than Barlow did — "less cliquey, groups of real friends." Mike is in a single at Gummere, but makes good use of the Common Room, where socialization proceeds apace: "You wouldn't find this at Penn State or Villanova," he says.
He's not sure at this point what his concentration will be, attracted by neurobiology, chemistry, poli sci and pre-law, equally. He thinks he'll help out in a law school (as a summer work experience), but right now is leaving things "tentative." He feels the Honor Code is the glue that creates the communal feeling of Haverford — "I guess it makes us a more close-knit community and imbues you with a feeling of 'honor' — so that you don't feel the need to cheat" [as you might under the pressure created at other schools to excell at all costs].
Mike's first semester course work includes Visiting Assistant Philosophy Professor Jeremy Fantl's "Truth, Lies and Illusions" (which calls into question whether certain religious and scientific claims are true, and whether one can be deceived by friends and loved ones); Assistant Professor Alexander Norquist's General Chemistry 1 (which ponders properties of atoms and molecules, stoichiometry, and acid-based equilibria); Algebra 1 (axioms for integers, polynomials), taught by Associate Professor Yung-sheng Tai; and a freshman writing seminar, 150a-02, To Create More Worlds, with Professor Eugenia Zuroski, which suggests how literature makes worlds and defines the people who inhabit them. Texts examined will include Ovid's Metamorphosis, Shelley's Frankenstein, and Alan Lightman's Einstein's Dreams...
"I've also joined the Frisbee Club," Mike smiles. "Love that Frisbee."