Student Profile: Mirielle Clifford
When I first came to St. John's, I obsessively listened to George Harrison's “All Things Must Pass.” This album embodied my new environment—the sky, lit by a bright mountain sun, was a new, bare-bones kind of blue. If I went a day without much enthusiasm, it felt incomplete. I see myself gazing upon the propositions of Euclid's Elements, in awe of their orderliness.
I've settled in now—I’m in the second semester of my sophomore year—and though I've moved on to other music, the sun still shines as brightly (except for when it snows). The St. John's program isn't new anymore, as a whole, but each thing we read presents a new challenge. For example, it would be painful to read the Book of Job as though it were a Platonic dialogue. This freshness keeps me on my toes and guarantees that I evolve. I have to constantly reassess what I believe in, what I care about, how I think, and how I can become a better person. If that sounds disorienting, it is; it's necessary, though, and I enjoy it. It's a strangely safe limbo, where I have good people behind me and the stimulus of the books we read to push me forward.
By navigating through the change caused by the program, I've become more attuned to subtleties. I can better appreciate the architectural details of houses in Santa Fe, which at first blend in with each other in a blur of adobe, but then present their red doors and paintings of Our Lady of Guadalupe on the walls. Something similar happens when I'm reading philosophy: metaphors and humanistic touches, hand-picked by their author, jump out at me from behind the logical language. Logic and poetic details combine to complete an argument.
In terms of the Program, thinking more carefully has also laid a good foundation for thinking creatively and confidently. I'm learning how to push my ideas further, moving step by step, and I end up in unexpected places. I get a lot more out of reading Aquinas and Virgil this way. I've realized that there's no reason to hold back, really, and as my good friend and classmate says, “No guts, no glory.”
I've taken this courage and decided that a practical Texan can be a poet. I know now that I have the abilities and the initiative to create, in the sense of the Greek word for poet, which comes from a verb meaning “to do, or to make.” When I set out on a writing career, I'll have gained invaluable tools from my time at St. John's—a familiarity with diverse writing styles, insight on how to communicate more effectively, and the ability to really listen to all kinds of people.
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