Layton Aho (A19) is a US Navy veteran and student at St. John’s College in Annapolis.
St. John’s College: Why did you decide to attend St. John’s?
Layton Aho: My AP Literature teacher told me about this college ten years ago. She told me, “this is the school you need to go to.” This summer, my mom was talking about my brother going to college somewhere, and the college she was talking about mentioned that they have a great books program. A light bulb clicked in my head; I said, “Wait a minute, that sounds familiar.” I was at a crossroads in my career so I figured, let’s just see, and here I am.
SJC: How do you think your military experience has informed your time at St. John’s?
LA: Because of the military I’m more disciplined in what I need to do. I was used to working 40 hours a week minimum, [and class time is] not 40 hours. I need to fill my time because this is my job now. Having that mentality has helped me because I am able to keep up with things and I am more used to that amount of workload.
SJC: What is a similarity between the military and St. John’s?
LA: I think one of the similarities is respect. In the military there’s rank everywhere, but the whole thing is respect up and down the chain of command. The people above are not supposed to disrespect the people below them, and the people below aren’t supposed to disrespect the people above them. In the classroom it’s very much about treating everyone’s opinion as equal and not putting anyone above anyone else. It’s an equality thing, and I think it’s also a component of respect. That was one of the things that was really surprising to me, the mutual respect.
SJC: What would you like to do after graduation?
LA: Ideally, I would like to write. Barring that I’ll probably end up teaching. I taught a lot when I was in the Navy, and I like teaching because I like learning new things.
SJC: What has been your favorite reading so far?
LA: I love the Oresteia. I’m about to schedule my oral and it’s probably going to be on the Oresteia. A lot of people talk about the Iliad and the Odyssey being part of the beginning of Western literature, and they are, but I think one of the biggest parts is Aeschylus. You approach more what most people would consider dialogue when you get to Aeschylus.
St. John’s College values military service and provides Yellow Ribbon funding to every qualified applicant who is accepted. We enthusiastically welcome veterans and their dependents to both our undergraduate and graduate programs. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
—Sasha Gesmer (A17)