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Pursuit of Happiness

April 16, 2012

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    Paige Glowacky ’12

Undergraduate Campus

Paige Glowacky ’12 will serve as the student speaker at the College of Arts and Sciences’ commencement ceremony on May 6. The sociology and anthropology major has helped plan every Gender Studies Symposium since she arrived at Lewis & Clark, cochairing the event in 2012. She also spent a year as president of the Womyn’s Center.

We talked with Glowacky about her time at Lewis & Clark and how a liberal arts education has prepared her for the future.

What are some of your reflections on your college experience?

What stands out most for me is the incredible sense of community and the truly extraordinary people here. There has not been one student, one faculty member, or one administrator who hasn’t support me and the work I’ve done on campus.

This may sound like hyperbole, but I honestly feel solidarity with every single member of our community. I have no doubt that I could go up to each of them—even the ones I don’t know—and start a conversation. That’s how comfortable I feel here, and I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. That’s incredible. It makes you realize how lucky we’ve all been to be here.

What are your happiest recollections of your time at Lewis & Clark?

The people have really made my time here into something unforgettable. Even the mundane stuff, like going to dinner at the Bon and hanging out in friends’ dorm rooms, I’ll remember. Going to college and figuring yourself out isn’t easy, but when you get to do it with people who just want to laugh with you, who just want to see you do well, it makes it all worth it. We’ve grown up together. To watch all of us get a little bit more mature over the years and do adult things like move into houses and get jobs has really been a joy.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I looked at a lot of schools on both the East and West Coasts, and visited quite a few campuses. I knew when I walked onto this campus that I had to come here. Something just clicked. It was the perfect size, close to a great city, and had such energy to it. Everything about it just made sense to me.

How has your time here helped you grow as an individual or changed how you think about the world?

Certainly, going to a liberal arts college changes the way you see things. You start seeing yourself in the context of larger structures of race, class, gender, etc. Not to get too political, but I think we all sort of had a revelation about how the world works and how we can begin to think about solutions.

In high school, I craved this kind of learning. Since coming here, I’ve learned how to be an activist and an academic, and how to think critically about the world. Learning how to think critically is Lewis & Clark’s greatest gift to me.

What message do you hope to convey to your fellow graduates at commencement?

When I set out to write my speech, I decided not to give advice, but to draw attention to how really wonderful our time here has been. It’s a speech about being grateful for each other and how we’ve spent the last four years together. I wanted to point out that although we did the work, we couldn’t have come this far without the support of certain people. All in all, the speech is about the ways in which I’m grateful to everyone who will be at commencement.

What do you think you’ll do with your degree?

I’m currently writing my senior thesis on the wine industry in the Willamette Valley, which has given me the opportunity to meet many winegrowers and work with them in their vineyards. I’ve been working on this project for more than a year, starting with being a research assistant last summer to Professor Deborah Heath.

Through her guidance, I met alumnus Doug Tunnell, who owns Brick House Vineyards in Newberg, Oregon. I’ve worked harvest for him and helped him with bottling his 2010 wines, and just recently he offered me a job! I’m so excited, I can hardly stand it.

Although my job doesn’t directly involve my major, working on my degree at Lewis & Clark has led me to my job! The thing with getting a liberal arts degree is that it’s going to lead you to unexpected places. I’m so happy that it has led me here.

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