After the Bubble bursts

Stephanie Kliethermes

Breathe. Relax. Smile. These words sounded like a broken record in my mind as I hesitantly anticipated life after Lawrence. I know some of you may be counting down the days until you graduate, but I wasn’t so sure that I was ready to be done with LU. It had been home for four years and now the daunting realities and responsibilities of being an adult loomed before me — well, kind of.I, like many Lawrentians before me, decided to pursue more schooling after graduation. In other words, I wanted to put off the real world a little bit longer. Why not, right?

You can now find me in the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa pursuing a master’s degree in Biostatistics — and please don’t give me that ‘look’ that I get every single time I talk about my current endeavors. You know, the raised eyebrow, the scrunched nose, “you-gotta-be-crazy” look.

To all you non-math types, this field may seem somewhat like a foreign language, but really it’s very straightforward. Biostatistics is simply statistics applied to the biological and health sciences. It’s an exciting field in which I hope to meld my math and English majors with my passion for sports and exercise.

Some may say I was overcommitted at Lawrence — and they’re probably right — but I enjoyed every second of it. Upon graduating and moving to Iowa City, I resolved not to get committed and instead focus primarily on classes. Yeah, right; that didn’t last long. I now find myself going to classes, assistant teaching an intro to biological statistics course, playing intramurals with my classmates, mentoring a rambunctious second grader as a Big Sister, and coaching a group of girls for our local chapter of Girls on the Run. And guess what? I still love it!

So, what’s it all like? Classes are going well and are comparable to the rigor and demands of Lawrence courses. Not every graduate program is the same, so I am hesitant to generalize my experiences; however, I do believe Lawrence has prepared me extremely well. I find that Lawrence has fostered my ability to think critically and communicate, both on paper and verbally, in a very advantageous way. These skills are so incredibly important when collaborating in any field, and the ability to voice a well-reasoned opinion is extremely respected among my classmates, professors, and yes, students.

Speaking of students, not even three years of tutoring at the CTL could have prepared me for some of my experiences as a teaching assistant first semester. As part of my appointment, I am responsible for teaching two breakout sessions each week. No problem, right? Maybe I should mention that a majority of the students were doctors and nurses. Although intimidated at first, I quickly found a manageable comfort level.

You’ll have the high-minded doctors who feel they don’t need to learn statistics — especially from a 22-year-old — but on the whole I found a genuine interest and appreciation for my efforts. I attribute much of my success in this new role to my classes and professors at Lawrence, both of which instilled in me a quiet confidence in my ability to interact on the same level with these professionals.

In the end, though, I look back at my days spent in Briggs learning proofs on my white board or Main Hall discussing the Houyhnhnms of “Gulliver’s Travels” or even my many hours spent on the table in the training room and realize Lawrence taught me much more than academic prowess.

I have learned how to persevere, I have learned the importance of trust, and I have learned the true meaning of dedication. Lawrence taught me the value of humility and hope, the ills of defeat and doubt, and the joy of giving and integrity. And most significantly, I’ve learned what it means to just be me.

I’m confident that Lawrence taught me different things and prepared me differently than it will each and every one of you, and that’s what makes it so unique. Sure we exist together in this place deemed “The Lawrence Bubble,” but within this bubble is the chance for creativity, individuality and growth.

Yes, there is life beyond the Lawrence bubble and it’s full of wonderful opportunities, experiences and privileges; yet the outside world wouldn’t be what it is without LU. Go Vikes!