A Fertile Environment

by Lauren Sutter '07

I came to Scripps for two reasons. First, of all the colleges I visited, Scripps had the most impressive student body: articulate, accomplished, interesting, outspoken, friendly, and supportive of one another. The other reason was Professor Emily Wiley.

During James E. Scripps (JES) Scholars weekend, we chatted about our mutual appreciation of biology and our interest in hiking. She answered my questions about the biology program and spoke about her current research on the way genomes are packaged within the cell nucleus and how this influences what parts of the genome are read. She told me that if I did choose to attend Scripps, she would be happy to let me do research with her.

After I returned home and was in the midst of deciding which college I would go to, I received a letter from Professor Wiley. She expressed how glad she had been to meet me and that she looked forward to seeing me in the fall. She reiterated her offer of doing research together. This was the only letter I ever received from a professor during my college search. I still have it, Professor Wiley’s blue cursive handwriting, written in impeccably straight lines across giraffe stationery.

After I arrived at Scripps, my academic plans changed, and I decided to focus my studies on English literature and French. I returned again to Professor Wiley’s office. She supported my decision and encouraged me to pursue what I loved to do—that was the point of going to a college like Scripps, after all.

Though now I rarely set foot in the Keck Science Center, I still see Professor Wiley on campus and we always stop for a moment to talk. My interaction with Professor Wiley set the precedent for the rest of my student-faculty relationships at Scripps.

Professors are an integral part of student life here. We students don’t just see them in the classroom or during office hours. Like us, they grab their coffee in the Motley, stop through the mailroom, and dine at Malott.

Within the academic setting, students and professors maintain constant interaction. I visit my professors during office hours, speak with them after class, and send them e-mails about papers. The professors want to talk to you and are interested in what you want to work on.

This summer, I e-mailed Professor John Peavoy, the chair of the English department, as I pondered over a thesis topic, and he was always quick to respond with his thoughts. Though, after I e-mailed him on a Saturday evening, he told me not to forget to enjoy my vacation.

I found one of my thesis readers, Professor Cheryl Walker, when we were talking about some of the books she keeps in her office. When I mentioned my intent to write about Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine, she said that she would be willing to read my thesis.

The Scripps community encourages a unique bond between professor and student that fuels our academic pursuits. A sense of camaraderie infuses the classroom atmosphere which works to encourage the best from both student and professor. It creates a fertile environment that allows us all to grow.


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