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View from the Top: Sean Fabery

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Section: Features

April 27, 2012

When I arrived at Brandeis in the fall of ’08, I had no idea what I was doing. I was only sure about one thing: I was not going to be an English major.

What’s my major now? English.

Any senior can tell you that’s hardly an uncommon occurrence. Plenty of people I know began their Brandeisian careers as pre-med, only to transform into a funky sociology or IGS major after a semester or two of chemistry.

Of course, that doesn’t make it any less unexpected when it happens to you. That first semester, I took calculus and computer science, convinced I was going to end up programming to my heart’s content for four years.

Fast-forward a month into the semester: I wasn’t enjoying myself, or at least I wasn’t enjoying the part of me that stayed up late stressing about exams I knew I would do fine but never great on. At the same time, I was taking an English course—Twentieth Century American Comic Novel—and loving the time I got to spend with Vladimir Nabokov, Philip Roth and Dawn Powell.

Toward the end of the semester I spoke with my English professor at the end of class. When he asked me what I wanted to study, I impulsively told him I was majoring in English.

“My God,” he said. “Now why would you want to do a thing like that?”

He was kidding—I think. At any rate, it’s not a decision I regret. Many of the best instructors I’ve had at Brandeis have been in the English department, and I’m certainly a better writer, reader and—dare I say—person for it.

That’s not to say I regret experimenting with math and computer science. I genuinely thought I would enjoy them, and I did—to an extent. I just happened to find something I enjoyed even more, and isn’t that great?

When you’re making your next schedule, remember to pursue something you enjoy learning about. It’s fine to think practically, but that doesn’t mean you should stay in your safe zone. I’ve heard too many people lament the English, psychology or Yiddish class that got away. Don’t be one of them.

***

When I arrived at Brandeis in the fall of ’08, I had no idea what I was doing. When my plane landed at Boston Logan, it was only my second time in New England … ever.

I’m from Georgia—and no, I’m not from Atlanta or even the suburbs of Atlanta. I’m from Columbus, a city on the border with Alabama. Columbus is the hometown of novelist Carson McCullers and Ma Rainey, the mother of blues. If you ask the right person, they’ll swear that Dr. John Pemberton—a veteran of the 1865 Battle of Columbus—invented Coca-Cola right in our city (you’re welcome).

Few people there have heard of Brandeis. After graduation, my high school published a list of universities that its students were attending. Mine was the only one that necessitated that the city and state be listed next to it.

Before December 2007, I also had no idea what Brandeis was. I only applied after a friend recommended it to me, figuring I’d find the history program interesting. When I did my own research, I was immediately attracted by the number of merit aid programs Brandeis offered. Remember, this was before the Great Recession kicked in. So I applied. When I got in, I accepted. Why not leave Georgia for a while?

It’s a decision I don’t regret. There are a few things I miss about the South. There’s the food—the barbecue, the sweet tea, everything fried. There’s the hospitality factor; there’s something comforting about everyone exchanging “sir” and “ma’am” all day. In the winter I sometimes even miss the weather.

To be honest, though, it’s not as different as some people think. I’ve had people look at me incredulously when I describe Georgia and it doesn’t sound like a third-world country. That reminds me: Don’t judge other places when you come from Vermont.

***

When I arrived at Brandeis in the fall of ’08, I had no idea what I was doing. I wasn’t very involved.

Instead, I spent most of that first year with my roommates in our forced triple. Luckily we all got along, joined by a shared appreciation for “Lost” and marginally funny YouTube videos.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I joined The Hoot. Remember how I made it sound like becoming an English major was the best decision I ever made? Well, scratch that: Joining The Hoot was the best decision I made.

I began my Hoot life as a news writer, but I also dabbled in the arts section, then known as Diverse City (groan). Before I knew it, I was somehow the arts editor.

To anyone who’s ever considered arts journalism, do it. In the last three years, I’ve gotten to see so many great Brandeis theater productions and art shows. I’ve also discovered just how much I like writing about film. College is all about learning about yourself, and you’re certainly forced to do that when you have to commit 800+ words on a weekly basis.

I wish I could tell you that, behind the scenes, The Hoot is all sex, drugs and hipster music, but it’s really bagels, caffeine and awkward 3 a.m. conversations. In short, it’s Brandeis. It’s a little weird, but you meet a lot of cool people.

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