Letter Home for Parents
Senior Headed to Wall Street
When Alicia Dondo (SF13) arrived at St. John’s College, the January Freshman expected the topography of Afghanistan, as suggested by the consular officer in Harare, Zimbabwe, who processed her student visa. Fortunately, this misleading and perhaps daunting comparison was soon dispelled, just as other challenges would be surmounted.
Take mathematics, which she had enjoyed in grammar school, but which took a turn in her junior year at St. John’s. “It got more exciting,” Dondo offered with a smile, explaining that she had to learn calculus so as to both understand Newton and fulfill her responsibilities as a laboratory assistant. “My confidence in my ability to master something quickly improved,” she said, looking back upon an experience that is a crucial component of a St. John’s College education: students and their tutors collectively tackling subjects that can be difficult or demanding.
Now a senior, Dondo marvels at how well read she has become; for example, actually reading Kant and Hegel and finding a way to navigate their dense philosophy. “It’s a sense of accomplishment,” she reflected. “I never knew I could do that: to get a better understanding and be able to talk about it, that gives me confidence.”
Just as Dondo embraced challenges in the classroom, she enthusiastically plunged into other aspects of college life. She has participated in Polity, the student government organization; attended President Michael Peter’s International Relations Study Group, contributing the perspective of an international student; served as a student ambassador to the college’s Board of Visitors and Governors; became involved with Project Politae, the student organization devoted to community service; and written for the student newspaper.
As student ambassador, Dondo attended Board meetings and found that especially over less formal dinners her insights about student life were solicited. But is Project Politae that has special meaning for her. She believes the Program--which seeks to stimulate reflection on such qualities as virtue, morality, and justice and to give students grounding as citizens of the world—is fundamentally connected to the notion of service. Thus, a thread that weaves through all her activities at St. John’s College, from assisting fellow lab students to spearheading events like collecting food for homeless people in Santa Fe, is the commitment to service.
Dondo also values the close relationships she has established with tutors, peers, and administrative staff, one of the hallmarks not just of a small college, but of St. John’s College in particular. One relationship she developed while working in the Advancement office led to a summer internship, which led to her post-graduation job with a New York investment bank. The job involves mathematics as well as working with people--something that has defined her academic and extracurricular involvement at St. John’s and is a desired feature of future employment.
While certain threads in her life are coming together, she is open to future opportunities, something that she feels now confident in pursuing.