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We get letters

January 7, 2021

In reflecting upon my college experience so far, I recognize that my first semester looked quite different than usual. Given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton University conducted a virtual, remote semester. While beginning my undergraduate education virtually from Madison may not have been an entirely ideal scenario, I remain thankful for the opportunity to nonetheless start my college journey, engage with a rich academic program rooted in the liberal arts, and begin to forge important connections with my peers.

One of my biggest takeaways from the semester regards the function and inner workings of research – namely, that academic discourse is deeply and closely connected to the real world and our understanding of it. While some consider academic discourse to be somewhat removed from everyday life, I’ve learned that it represents a real opportunity to contribute to ongoing intellectual discussions surrounding issues of consequence. In that vein, a highlight of the semester was writing a final paper in which I chose to conduct original research regarding media representations of protests for racial justice that occurred in the summer of 2020. Another highlight was learning about the Princeton Net-Zero America Project, a study that delineates viable pathways for the U.S. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

I’ve also discovered that valuable learning often happens in unexpected ways. My freshman seminar pushed me to explore the boundary between art and life through the creative projects I undertook, such as improvising a piano composition along with the evening sounds of crickets or writing poetry inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of academic contexts, I have also begun an advising fellowship with Princeton’s chapter of Matriculate, an organization that supports high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds as they apply to college. My own learning as an advisor very much continues as I prepare to support these students.

In closing, I am quite grateful for the support MCEF has shown through its generous contribution toward my college education. I look forward to exploring the possibilities of the upcoming semester and seeing what the future may hold as I continue this exciting new journey.

Jonah Clatterbuck
MCHS Class of 2020

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