First, I'll explain who I am. I'm Nicholas Sugiarto, a '23 from San Diego, California. Second, a quick disclaimer. I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Prior to Dartmouth, I've never hiked, skied, or seen snow. So yeah, you could say that Dartmouth is quite a bit different from what I'm used to. You'll probably find me on campus lost. I have no sense of direction. Please help.
A class studying how Christian language has permeated into how we as a society talk about economics. I have virtually no interest in either field as a major, nor am I really religious, but the class is super fun! It challenges you to think in ways that aren't outstandingly obvious, but get more and more interesting if you're willing to put the time in to thinking about them. It's by no means your traditional class. At least in the high school I came from, the idea of dedicating an entire term to a topic as niche as this is unheard of. But honestly? That just makes it so much more fulfilling. Like most Dartmouth classes, there's a ton of freedom to explore topics that interest you. For my final term paper, since I'm a huge hip hop fan, I wrote about the religious and economic underpinnings of Kendrick Lamar's "How Much a Dollar Cost." Without diving too deep into the jargon, I argued that money according to Kendrick Lamar, is defined by Western capitalism heavily intertwined with American Prosperity Gospel; its true nature, on the other hand, is a form of spiritual exchange. I loved this class so much that I was able to take my professor out to breakfast (on Dartmouth's dime, of course. Quick college lesson, never, ever pay for food. Live life Aladdin style.).
For those that don't know, Writing 5 is a class that's mandated for all Freshman. It helps you adjust to college writing, research, all that good stuff. There's a ton of topics to choose from, ranging from the criminal justice system to how food affects your mind. I personally chose "Pursuit of Happiness" because, well, who doesn't want to be happy? This class was my first intro to what the Dartmouth academic experience is really about. It was a small class of only 16 strong where classes were discussion-based and the professor's door is always open. It goes without saying that the course was immensely interesting (is there really a way to make happiness boring?), and we studied a vast majority of topics from Aristotle to Voltaire to Biochemical research studies. I tell incoming students all the time that if you want to make the most of your Dartmouth experience, take classes that interest you and make what you do with those classes interesting too. There's nothing more painful than having to write a paper on a topic you find absolutely mind-numbingly dull. Given my fascination with stand up comedy, I focused on viewing comedy as a form of happiness, starting from comedy in relation to Camus's absurd, the higher prevalence of mental illness in comedians, and what kind of comedians deserve happiness. Honestly? Even though this class was technically "mandatory," I would have taken it regardless.
This is the class I'm currently taking, and it's by far my favorite. You couldn't tell by my posts, or my favorite classes I listed earlier, but I'm actually a huge STEM guy. I'm a biomedical engineering major for a reason, and Dartmouth classes really make STEM fun. They're also so easy a child could follow them. Literally. I'm using the computer science 1 curriculum to teach my little sister coding. At a slower pace of course. She's not THAT smart (yet). I've never tried coding before, but the task-based approach of the CS department really makes things interesting. So far, we've drawn a children's book/ logo, a chalkboard drawing (I drew the Kanye bear), and a retro pong game. There's something fun about solving puzzles for a grade, and even though the course is admittedly pretty challenging at times, it's so worth it.
Who is your favorite professor at Dartmouth and why?
You know, this may easily be the hardest question I've ever answered on this blog. Not because I don't know most of my professors. Quite the opposite. In fact, I've had so many amazing professors that I just simply don't know who to choose from!
Don't get me wrong, there are some pretty clear candidates. A few that immediately come to mind are:
Professors Amanda Amodeo, who was my genetics class professor and is a super passionate lecturer doing some really cool research into cell development
Professor Jeremy Sabella, who was a really cool Religion professor that made my first term at Dartmouth special by letting me talk to him for hours about Religious ideology in Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly just for the heck of it
Professor Eng-Beng Lim, my professor for Gender and Sexuality in Asian American Literature who is the reason I, a few days ago, got to sit down and talk to a reporter about my thoughts about the need for Asian American studies here at Dartmouth.
Each of these professors are absolutely amazing, and I could answer your questions with any one of their names and not regret a thing.
But for now I'd say that my favorite professor is my research faculty mentor Professor Xiaofeng Wang (affiliated with the Geisel School of Medicine). I first got to know Professor Wang after he put up an ad on the Dartmouth website saying that he was interested in recruiting undergraduate research assistants. And, ever since I started working under him, I've been so lucky to have built a good relationship with him. Not only has he given me the opportunity to engage in real, meaningful research and trusts me to take some agency and give me a voice in the products I work on (including the privilege of voicing my disagreement if I don't think something should be done a certain way), he also takes time helping me outside the lab. When I mentioned off hand that my vacuum broke (I live off campus), he personally drove over to drop off his old vacuum he was coincidentally about to throw out anyways. And I don't mean some dinky vacuum. I mean like a Shark vacuum. Which, if you're not as into vacuums as I am, is a really, really good vacuum.
And that's what I love about Dartmouth. It's rare that you have professors so invested in students' education as the professors I listed above are. But, it's even rarer that you see professors that care about their students' holistic well-being as much as these professors did for me. We have that here at Dartmouth. And honestly? You'd be hard pressed to find that anywhere else.
As someone coming from a warm state, the idea of cold winters was frightening as well as fascinating. After a few days on campus, I learned winter was only the latter. Read on to see a few things I've learned from my first winter!