When Visiting Assistant Professor of History Andrew Ross started his college career, he began by studying history and computer science at Washington University in St. Louis. Though he thoroughly enjoyed ones and zeros, he quickly realized that his passion resided in history, and forgot all about coding.
His history studies eventually led him to study abroad his entire junior year in Oxford, England. The people he met abroad are still some of his closest friends and they keep in touch.
Ross stayed in the dorms at Keeble College and as a third year continued living alongside first years. He was in a very intense program, but his experience in Oxford helped him wth his decision to go to grad school.
“I didn’t want to leave,” said Ross, but it was during this time abroad that he realized what he wanted to do in the next few years.
But despite his thirst for academics, Ross also took the time to participate in things he found interesting outside of the classroom. “There’s more to college than just your paper,” Ross said. “Sometimes I think we lose sight of that. I encourage people not to overload themselves, but to find a way to do more than just the class work, because that’s part of what college is about.”
Ross also found it important to participate in an array of extra-curricular activities. His first year, he wrote for a leftist newspaper entitled The Southpaw; sophomore year, he went on to head the college’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer alliance and in the first semester of his senior year, founded an activist group.
Ross enjoyed his time heading both the activist group and the LGBTQ alliance, but said these two proved to be somewhat difficult to cope with on top of his senior thesis, and so the second semester of his senior year he took a break. “I ultimately quit everything. … I needed to have a moment where I could relax ﾗ I also took the minimum courses that semester; just needed that time I think.”
Ross encourages students to try new things and to balance academia with leisure. That can mean anything from joining a club to spending some time with friends. “I was in a close group of friends for a few years, but senior year, things seemed to get crazy, and we split apart a little bit.”
In spite of this, Ross has remained close with some friends. “I have two very close friends I’m still in touch with, two artists; we hung out a lot,” he said.
Ross emphasized the fact that the friends you make in college are ones you keep for the rest of your life, and that life is too short to be constantly indoors. “Find a balance. My sense of Kenyon students is that the academics sometimes get so overwhelming that they lose sight ﾅ that there has to be something else in your life.”
Academia is extremely important in a student’s life, but Ross stresses it isn’t enough to focus on work. “This is a unique kind of moment where it’s you and 1,300 other people your age who are kinda into the same thing,” he said. “Now is the time to enjoy that because it will never happen again.”
When asked if he had any advice for Kenyon students, Ross said that the most important thing a student could possibly do is “to take the time to find your passion,” lest that be a club, a class or a group of friends. A student, regardless of whether he or she is a Kenyonite or not, who is able to balance classes alongside downtime is, in Ross’s opinion, a student who is likely to find success and happiness. “Liberal arts is about a whole life experience,” Ross said, “and that means that it’s more than just the homework for the next day.”
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