Rennie Meyers '15
Hello all! My name is Rennie and I’m one of the five summer Admission interns. I’ll try to avoid writing anything contrived now–and over the course of this blustery-so-far summer–someone yell at me if I fail. Or if I get too poetical. At any rate, I can’t wait to see my first Portland summer and to share it with you (I’m reading DFW’s Infinite Jest at the moment, so expect quotes)!
I grew up in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, but Portland and Oregon stole my heart on my first visit to Reed. It’s hard to find a “greener” city in landscape or attitude, or a greener caffeinated beverage now that I think of it: little t American Bakery suckered me in with their Matcha Latté from the moment I entered Southeast. For me, Portland’s greatest draw is that you don’t have to sacrifice city for scenery: 40 minutes out to the East or West takes you to the rolling hills of the Dalles or the misty coast, respectively, and Portland has 92,000 acres of green space within its urban growth boundary. It’s really the perfect place to study human-nature interaction.
As of the 2013-2014 academic year I’ll be a Junior Environmental Studies & History major. The fledgling Environmental Studies major requires a set of core courses in the sciences, social sciences, and history, that all address environmental issues, and culminates in a team-taught interdisciplinary Junior Seminar. We get to take these in conjunction with another major and its own Junior Seminar, and pull everything together for our senior thesis – it’s daunting but exciting. My interests include sustainable design and architecture, marine biology and conservation, and the successes and failures of environmental ethics as a political tool; focusing in history lets me study the relationship between human beings and the natural world as it morphs over time, to paraphrase William Cronon’s definition of environmental history. The chance to study outside my field of interest only edifies and expands what I consider to be “my field” or “an interest.” The intellectual rigor that saturates Reed certainly doesn’t stand at odds with contemporary problems, but instead grounds them.
There’s too much to say about the power of Reed’s pursuit, not just the virtues but also the need for living the life of the mind. It doesn’t preclude a strong, present community, but instead lends itself to precise and critical action. Reedies will leave no stone unturned, and run down thorny paths of thought together. I see it under dim light in the Theatre building in crepuscular evening hours, working furiously in the Library’s New Pit beyond midnight and, overlooking the canyon from the Blue Bridge, in the rosy fingers of dawn coaxed out by honest conversation. I hope to keep that spirit alive as a student senator next year.
I’m here for you guys, so please email me anytime with questions. I can talk about Reed student governance, our (free!) campus activities program the Gray Fund, theatre, art and art history on campus, Residence Life (I’m a House Advisor on campus), the Quest, on-campus sustainability, archery, and general Reed love. I have a lot of it bubbling up.
The sole offspring of a single parent household, I used to spend my days in the yard slaying dragons, fighting pirates, and honing my Jedi skills. I attended a small Christian school for the first nine years of my education–it would prove fundamental to who I am as a person. The summers found me visiting the various corners of the earth. From war-torn Kosovo to Ka-Ka-Kathmandu, I gained a deep appreciation for education and the opportunities it bestows, as well as a sobering view of the world.
High school was great. I joined the rowing team, played video games with my friends, and long boarded along the sunny beachfronts of South Florida. I took a conference style literature class and fell in love with it. I knew I wanted a similar environment in college, one where students would come together and discuss with, not just listen to, their professors. I wanted to be engaged, not lectured at.
Reed was an obvious fit. Its intellectual spirit coupled with curious and dedicated students and faculty provided a stimulating environment both inside and outside the classroom. The moment I stepped foot on this campus I felt like I fit in without having to conform. I joined the rugby team to do something I had never done before. The dragon slaying turned into Arthurian Romances, the pirate battles into swashbuckling adventure novels and model boat building, and Jedi work into Star Wars marathons. But the long boarding has stayed a constant, with one marvelous difference: Portland has hills!
Reed has helped me hone my intellectual skills as well as indulge my curiosities and hobbies. Not only have I been a student in a classroom, but also a TA at a local middle school, an intern in an office, and a food critic through the Gray Fund. I can’t wait to see what my last year at Reed will yield, but I know it will be exciting.
Feel free to shoot me an email if you gave any questions about the history department or the division of Social Sciences in general!
Chris Munoz '14
Hi, everyone! My name is Christopher Munoz and I’m a student intern in the Admission Office. I’m a German literature major and will soon be writing my thesis on representations of the Holocaust in Germany and Russia. I came to Reed from Clearwater, Florida, where I grew up in a Mexican-American family. From my mother, I learned to love literature – from my father, to love the mechanics of language.
I knew early on in high school that I wanted to come to Reed. I’d found a list of liberal arts schools and was interested by the humanities program and the senior thesis. Since coming here, I’ve been able challenge myself not only as a student – but also as a writer, a thinker, and reader.
As for my work in admissions – I’ve been interested in admissions since freshman year, which is when I worked as a dorm host. I had a job last year in the processing office and was able to see the behind-the-scenes work that happens each year. For my final year at Reed, I will be in the admission lobby as an intern, which will give me a chance to engage with prospective students in a new way. I’ll be giving tours, interviewing applicants, and greeting families as they arrive.
In my free time, I like to (attempt to) cook, read new fiction, and explore Portland. Feel free to send me an e-mail if you have any questions about the German major, studying abroad, or general questions about life at Reed!
Spenser Silbey '15
To get the standard introduction facts out of the way: I am a Reed junior majoring in French. I come from Las Vegas, NV. Despite (or rather, because of) that fact, I do not count gambling among my vices, which include writing on walls, receiving noise complaints, and overindulgence in sweet potatoes.
In addition to studying French poetry, literary theory, and political philosophy (to boil those down to the important parts: language, reading, and living with other people), I help out with Reed’s student-run debate team and Praxis, a monthly magazine that a few friends and I started last semester. Reed College is fantastic partially because it gives the student body government control over enough funds to support these activities and an ever-changing array of others: fire dancing, bands on campus, and a group dedicated to building big wooden contraptions in the Student Union are a few prime examples.
The one piece of my college applications that I remember is my “Why Reed?” essay, which was based around my desire to be the dumbest person in the room at all times. I was half-joking at the time, but my wish has occasionally been fulfilled: an upper-level German literature course my freshman year taught me everything I needed to know about memory, Walter Benjamin, and how to conduct oneself in conference, and a French poetry class with Hugh Hochman blew my mind twice a week. Francis Ponge’s “L’huître” (in translation for you non-francophone philistines) is the place to start. It’s a good allegory for the intellectual pursuit we undertake here at Reed. Lots of hard work and finger-nicking, occasional pearls. Anyhow, I found tough classes and frighteningly smart people: as advertised.
I’m one of the 500 or so Reed students who live off-campus, and one of 10 (plus a cat with an honorary degree) who live in a decrepit mansion just a block off campus. We live almost communally, with rent on a sliding scale as long as it all adds up and groceries all marked with a “K” for “kommie”–that’s Reed slang for “shared.” We enjoy angering our neighbors by hosting concerts in our living room, angering our landlord by painting murals on the walls, and angering each other by forgetting to do the dishes, but despite all that, I live with 9 of the best friends I could imagine having, and I really do hope you’ll join us.
In addition to the things I’ve mentioned, feel free to ask me about lefty activism at Reed and in Portland. I help to keep the Blue Heron Infoshop and its affiliated Collective alive and would love to show you around if you visit, or talk you through it in an email.
Annam Swanson '14
Hey, y’all! My name is Annam – it means “divine food.” Backwards, it’s Manna and that means the same thing – “food from the heavens.” The story behind how I came to have this weird name includes the Woodstock Festival’s opening address and a commercial kitchen full of lasagna. Intrigued? I love to tell the story – email me!
I’m a rising senior (!!!) Psychology major and I hail from the middle of nowhere… also known as Crozet, Virginia. I came upon Reed almost by sheer luck – that story starts with a cocktail napkin five years ago and ends with a phone call home on the last day of my campus visit: “Dad? Portland is it. Reed is it. I’m not coming home.”
I did go home (begrudgingly), but I spent most of my senior year thinking about this magical place – everything from Sallyport’s arch and the canyon’s charms, to the downtown farmer’s market pastries and endless shelves of books at Powell’s, to the wild, silly and strange stories I heard on each bus ride around the city. As a matter of fact, I actually wrote my “Why Reed” essay on the influence of stories and storytelling on my life.
That influence continues to grow, and I hope I can now extend it to you, dear readers! I would love to share any and all of my experiences with you. Ask me what it’s like to run for Student Senate or to be a DJ on campus, or how I started kickboxing. Ask me about the time I explored a hundred-year-old, 8-story mausoleum, how I learned web design in a studio art class, or how I creatively stay in touch with friends and family from almost 3,000 miles away.
This summer I will be interning here in the Admission Office, working in the Reed bookstore, and doing research with my academic adviser. I will also be eating a lot of gourmet ice cream, trekking through my summer reading list with my feet in my backyard kiddie pool, hiking in Forest Park, and taking naps with my cat, Kiki. Come visit! I promise the strawberry honey balsamic black pepper flavor is worth it.