What Kent State has done for me academically

Ben Wolford

Last week, I wrote about some professors who have made Kent their home and made Kent State their university.

They said, essentially, the community of educators and learners here is welcoming and suitable. To quote one of them: “Brilliant people are brilliant wherever you go.”

In all its humble charm, Kent is more than it might appear, their words seem to imply. There are gems if you seek them.

I’ve been fortunate to find them in my three years studying at this school. And I don’t simply refer to the intellectual giants of professors I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, although they have shaped me in significant ways. Kent State presents the opportunities a good university should, demanding only the aspiration of the student.

(Editor’s note: That introduction reads like public relations copy — albeit really good PR copy — but I didn’t mean it to. Nor do I intend to suggest with my laudatory expressions that I’m unable to cover the university impartially. Rather, I’m a student here, and this is my honest appraisal of my academic experience.)

I mentioned English Professor Lewis Fried last week, and the next day a journalism professor here called me over to say she loved Fried’s Freshman Honors Colloquium when she was a student here, too. She said he challenged her to grow intellectually more than anyone had before.

And I couldn’t agree more.

He encouraged critical readings of foundational texts of the Western canon and exposed my classmates and me to the rewards of humanities studies.

I felt like I was at Harvard when I was, in fact, sitting in a Johnson Hall classroom at Kent State.

As an aside, the Honors College made an unspeakably poor decision to remove him from teaching honors freshmen. Future students — the ones up to the challenge — have been failed by the Honors College, which has effectively dashed its own integrity.

In any case, there are great professors all over this campus: in philosophy, English, journalism, economics. In general I’ve been pleased with Kent State professors; I wish I could list them all.

But more than that, Kent State has ways to get out of Kent State. I was in Leicester, England, all spring, where I learned more than I ever have in a four-month span, and which allowed me to see much of Western Europe.

Next spring I’ll fly to Shanghai for a course on international journalism.

And perhaps, one of the biggest benefits of this school is the financial aid that’s available. Ohio University and its prestigious journalism school threw a few bucks at me, but I got a ton of money from this school.

It’s like Ray Campbell told me early on in this column: Kent State is “small enough where you can be somebody, but big enough where that matters.”

Contact Ben Wolford at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/BenWolford