My name is Amanda Lezra. I am a senior majoring in English literature, global humanities and critical thought, and minoring in religious studies.
I have attended five different higher education institutions: Ventura College in California, Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain, Drew University in New Jersey, the University of Texas at Austin, and now, Mills College, as a returning transfer student.
It is from this perspective that I say that Mills is, without a doubt, the most excellent institution I have ever had the privilege of attending.
My first class at Mills last fall was aesthetics, with Professor Jay Gupta.
My experience in his classroom was akin to mental re-wiring. His lectures cast light on sustained gaping blindspots in my logic. Professor Gupta’s class literally changed the way I look at paintings, the way I watch movies, the way I listen to music. I have taken philosophy classes in three of the institutions I mentioned before; this experience was unique, here at Mills, with Professor Gupta.
My first class last semester was with Professor Stephen Ratcliffe.
During the first week of classes, Professor Stephen Radcliffe’s eyes lit up after a student pointed out how references to folding fabric—weaving, wrinkling cloth—permeated Hamlet. One doesn’t expect Shakespearean experts to say, “I never noticed this before.”
“I never noticed this before.”
Professor Radcliffe picked up his copy of Hamlet and read passages out loud, identifying continuations of the metaphor.
My point, simply, is that Professor Radcliffe cemented an insider’s relationship between Shakespeare and student within the first week of classes. He made me feel like Shakespeare’s accomplice, invoking close attention to each word written, evoking fundamentally better reading and writing, heightening creative thinking. At the end of the semester, we rehearsed and acted in plays. I have taken English Literature, and briefly Shakespeare, in all of the institutions I mentioned before; this experience was unique, here at Mills, with Professor Radcliffe.
My last class last semester was with Professor Judith Bishop.
I heard Professor Judith Bishop’s name ten years before I transferred to Mills. She is my religious studies advisor; she is one of the reasons I chose to transfer to Mills. The study of religion in higher education is crucial for promoting critical thinking and informed civic engagement. Bigotry and mis-information regarding the study of religion is dangerous, often lethal, given the current socio-political climate.
Dr. Bishop’s classroom creates a unique forum for addressing issues of ultimate meaning—life, death, good, evil, fear, responsibility to ourselves, and to others. I have taken courses in religious studies in three of the five institutions I mentioned before; not one has required a site visit to a mosque. This experience was unique, here at Mills, with Professor Bishop.
I am not going to reiterate any of the points my colleagues made regarding the ethical inconsistencies and consequences of implementing the current Financial Stabilization Plan. At this point, it has been said, written, and repeated. I hope that what is deeply personal continues to be heard and considered, as it informs the morality of the professional.