Continuing with our profiles of alumni-one-year-out, here’s Joseph Wood, who believes in God.
Joseph Wood! You and I have one big thing in common: we both entered with the class of 2011, dropped out, and then came back to the College. Also, we are both Episcopalians!
Huzzah! It’s an honor and a privilege to been in such distinguished company—even if it’s still a little surreal that we’ve graduated.
So what drew you to St. John’s? Especially the second time?
My experience with the college was really a love affair. In eighth grade, a teacher noticed just how much of a stereotypical bookworm I was, and she recommended I take a look at St. John’s. It was love at first sight. (You mean, I not only get to read all these books, but I get to talk about them with people!) It just seemed like a perfect fit, and I never really looked at another college after that first flush. The only problem being that I placed all the emphasis on becoming a Johnnie, and I never really gave thought to what that actually entailed. I got to the school and, within the first few months, was completely overwhelmed.
Fortunately, my tutors took notice and kicked me out at the end of our freshman year. Well, I say fortunately now, but at the time it was an incredibly difficult experience, the worst of all possible break ups. I had spent all of this energy trying to make this identity real, only to apparently be unable to hack it. The situation, however, forced me to really take a step back and examine my options. What did I want from life? And even more: was St. John’s the right way to get it?
After a good deal of thought and more than a little angst, I realized that all of the enthusiasm I had for the school was still there, I just need to be more ready to meet the college halfway. I realized that I couldn’t passively be a Johnnie. In so much of my schooling beforehand, I had been smart enough to just show up and excel, but that pattern certainly hadn’t held out at St. John’s. I needed to be willing to really put in the work, willing to really wrestle with all of it, if I wanted to engage with the works and their questions in the way the college offers. In fact, that expectation of struggle is now one of my favorite things about the college, and I even wonder if we should emphasize it more. Continue reading