Jared WeissIt’s senior year, and like all of my senior friends, I find myself drawing ever closer to a crossroads in my life.  Soon I will be departing the place that I have called home for much of the past three years and counting, and will venture into a currently uncertain future.  It’s a daunting yet inevitable change that we all must confront eventually, and as we contemplate what is to come, we tend to reflect on what has come before.

That’s the melodramatic way of looking at it anyway.  Full disclosure:  I’m not one for melodrama, and I really just used that setup so I could make an Eric Clapton/Robert Johnson reference in the title.  Anyway, let me tell you a little bit about myself and how I’ve gotten to this point.

The Road Leading Here

I grew up in Bethel, NY – site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival – with my parents and younger brother Aaron, who is now a sophomore here at Simon’s Rock.  I graduated at the age of 14 from Monticello High School, the local public school, , and came to Simon’s Rock two months later.  I was very interested in biology even before my first year here, so it came as no particular surprise to anybody when I moderated into biology towards the end of my sophomore year.  I spent the first semester of my junior year studying abroad at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, then returned to Simon’s Rock for the spring semester.  I’ve also spent the past three summers interning in two different human genetics and genomics disease research laboratories.

View from the Crossroads

Jared and Aaron on RockIn what is probably one of my more obvious statements, being a senior isn’t easy.  We all have quite a lot on our plates.  First, we all have our classes.  This semester I’m taking Biochemistry with the wonderful David Myers, whose enthusiasm for teaching (and the Grateful Dead) is always delightful.  I’m also taking Statistics I Simon’s Rock and a Neuroscience course at Bard College, thanks to an arrangement wherein juniors and seniors can take one or two courses at Bard each semester with transportation provided by Simon’s Rock.  It’s a fantastic opportunity to supplement my coursework here with offerings that Simon’s Rock does not necessarily provide, and thus far my Neuroscience course has been a lot of fun.

Second, we are all diligently working on our senior theses, or at least, our thesis advisors hope we are all working diligently on our senior theses.  I’ve been working on a background information section for mine, a comparative analysis of the numerous hepatitis C virus genotypes, focusing on how the differences between genotypes may affect the infection process and the development of hepatitis C and chronic liver disease.  Erin McMullin is my thesis advisor; she has been a wonderful teacher and friend since she first arrived at Simon’s Rock during my sophomore year. In addition to being a kindred spirit regarding our mutual love for biology, and specifically genetics, we also both love Firefly, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones, as I had the distinct pleasure of learning a week or two ago.  It’s always fun bonding with professors over things unrelated to coursework, one of the many benefits a small, intimate classroom environment like Simon’s Rock provides.

I’m also involved in the management of several clubs.  I founded Star Trek Club during my first year here; the club basically serves as a venue for students to come together to watch Star Trek episodes and films., We have also organized larger scale events on campus including film screenings at the Kilpatrick Athletic Center pool, that have drawn between a quarter and a third of the student body in past years.  This year, I also agreed to take on Co-editor-in-Chief duties for the Llama Ledger, our student run online newspaper (look for updates after the October break!), and the Vice Chair position in the Simon’s Rock Republican and Conservative Coalition.

Classes are fairly demanding here, so managing three student organizations and doing a senior thesis on top of it all certainly has made for a rather hectic September.  And that’s to say nothing of preparations for life after Simon’s Rock, which are also taking up a fair deal of my time.  I’ll save details about that for another time, but as many of my fellow seniors know all too well, deadlines for graduate school and job applications can come upon you pretty quickly, so many of us have already been working hard on those.  But while it would be safe to say that the journey to the crossroads has been at a breakneck pace, it is always an exhilarating and rewarding ride.


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