On Leaving Home
Someone once said that all good stories start one of two ways. Either someone new comes to town or someone leaves. But I already talked about this view of the world in one of my prior blogs.
In this, my final Oberlin blog, I'd like to take just a minute to talk about what happens after you leave home. I'd like to talk today about liberal arts colleges and Oberlin in particular as way-stations along life's road. Your life's story began long before you started thinking about Oberlin College. You've spent thousands of hours on homework, worked with dozens of teachers, and mastered a myriad of new ideas to get you where you are now. Thousands of students have brought a variety of skills, talents, and education to Oberlin before you.
But Oberlin is not where any of these students' stories end. And if you choose to come to Oberlin it won't be where your story ends either. Rather Oberlin will be a chapter in your story - an important chapter that may even determine where your story ends up. At the very least it will help prepare you for the story (or stories) that will make up your life adventure.
As some of you may know by now, I recently left Oberlin College to continue my own story. I am now an academic dean at the brand new New York University campus in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity became a possibility for me in large part because of the many things that I learned during my time at Oberlin. Among those things were the joys and challenges of teaching exceptional students and the appreciation that I have gained for the distinct educational systems from which you all have embarked on your college journey. I know that Oberlin can create possibilities for you and your story as well.
I wish all of you the very best story that your life can become. I know that wherever you go to college, it will be a central part of your story. I hope that my blogs over the last few years have helped you figure out if Oberlin is the right college to crystallize your story.
As Robert Frost said, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." My road has led me to Abu Dhabi. I hope that wherever yours takes you - Oberlin or elsewhere - it will make all the difference in your story.
Note: Joel Presti is now the coordinator for international student recruitment at Oberlin College. If you have any questions, please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org.