Southwestern @ Georgetown
Volume 17 • Number 3
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Southwestern @ Georgetown
Dan Slezak ’06
Southwestern @ Georgetown
Josephine Thinwa ’06
Southwestern @ Georgetown
Arbye Curtis ’06
Southwestern @ Georgetown
Jennifer Lovell ’06
Southwestern @ Georgetown
Ali Hendley ’06
Southwestern @ Georgetown
Ben Woods ’06
First Class of Paideia® Scholars Graduates

The graduation of the class of 2006 marked an important milestone for Southwestern University. Among this group of graduates was Southwestern’s inaugural class of Paideia® Scholars. These students were distinguished during the ceremony by a tassel of five colors that represent the strands of the Paideia® Program: a strong, rigorous academic program; intercultural experiences; collaborative/guided research and creative works; leadership and service-learning.

The recent Paideia® graduates say three years of hard work and dedication brought them to the point where they can truly see the interconnectedness of the five strands. In reflection, Josephine Thinwa ’06 realized that she has become the embodiment of the strands. “During college, I was able to hold leadership positions, travel abroad where I did my collaborative research, and participate in multiple service activities,” she says.

Similarly, Dan Slezak ’06 stated that the program has come to exemplify the heart of the liberal arts experience. Not only does it require completion of the five strands, but it also requires students to add themselves to the equation and include personal feelings and thoughts. “In this way, the program helped me draw connections between classes and the real world, and how I fit, feel and belong in those settings,” Slezak says. “By adding personal, thoughtful reflection, it didn’t feel like I was simply checking off a course requirement. It made it a part of me by giving me vested ownership in what I was learning and experiencing.”

Paideia® has provided students an avenue by which to draw connections between the work they do inside and outside the classroom. For Slezak, a business major, a number of his anchoring experiences as a Paideia® Scholar stemmed directly from his business courses. Slezak feels that the study of business is often, incorrectly, seen as being single-mindedly focused on learning to turn a profit. On the contrary, he believes that the business program at Southwestern employs elements of Paideia® to provide an environment focused on enriching learning and drawing connections from across business and non-business disciplines. This, in turn, teaches students to be ethical and more effective because they are aware of many perspectives. “In the traditional sense, the bottom line for business is making money. The connection between the thinking we do in Paideia® with that in business leads to a triple bottom line evaluation of what business should focus on: financial success, environmental friendliness and social responsibility,” Slezak explains.

The opportunities and connections created by Paideia® are driving forces in the educational experience of those involved. Jay Gupta ’06 believes Paideia® was the real motivator in his education. It provided him with that extra challenge to try harder and to step outside himself. “Paideia® has been a great way to escape the strict writing style of science—which I had plenty of experience with as a biology major,” says Gupta. “It was a nice break and helped me find out more about myself.”

Thinwa shared a similar experience. “Paideia® pushed me to go beyond my comfort zone, explore other cultures and countries, and gave me the opportunity to new make friends in my Paideia® group—who I would have otherwise not gotten to really know,” she says.

Priya Kewada ’06 believes real education and learning extends beyond the classroom, giving students the chance to explore knowledge with different people and in different contexts. “The program provided an opportunity to engage other students from different disciplines, my Paideia® Professor, Dr. Sherry Adrian, and both the Georgetown and Southwestern communities,” Kewada says.

Paideia® is a program shaped by each individual scholar’s educational and social goals. Students get out of the program as much as they put into it. For the students, being a part of the inaugural class of Paideia® Scholars brings a great sense of pride. “I am glad and honored to be a part of the growing process of the school and its history of developing innovative initiatives and programs for higher education,” Slezak says.