How do we MALS grads integrate what we learn into our lives after we leave the program? My own Capstone, written in 2006, was a way for me to integrate the pain and sadness that permeated my life after the death of a family member. Now, in November of 2013, I can’t help but wonder—what would my Capstone topic be today? The possibilities make me want to tackle a new Capstone, all over again.
In this issue of MALS Matters, we will see alumni putting integration into action: In David Rohr's essay on the inherent value of the liberal arts; in Kelli Loucks’ MALS Program Award, celebrating her Capstone project which proposes integration of theatre courses in secondary teacher training; in Stacey Sheppard’s exhibit, chronicling four generations of artists in her family; in our ongoing INKLINGS discussion group (open to all) which allows MALS students, alumni, and faculty to continue learning outside of the “official” classroom.
Although some people might question the value of a liberal arts education, we MALS-ters know the truth. Even those of us who start the program with a few lingering doubts are quickly converted—through lively, enlightening class discussion, mind-broadening reading lists, and new relationships with fellow students and faculty. As MALS becomes part of our daily lives—as we integrate the program into our hearts and minds and busy schedules—we find ourselves inspired, fulfilled, and able to see the path ahead more clearly. Or, perhaps, if we can’t quite see the path, we at least begin to trust in our own ability to find it.
It’s easy to point out where MALS has come in handy in my professional life as a freelance writer. The creativity, flexibility, and curiosity my job requires were well-fed by my time at Nazareth College. It’s the quieter, internal, and personal ways in which I have integrated my “MALS lessons” that—while harder to define—make the biggest impact on my daily life. I’m no longer afraid to say that I don’t know the answer to something, I’m a better listener, and I try to embrace discomfort, because it almost always leads to learning and discovery.
If you have read previous MALS newsletters, you probably remember that I (try to) practice yoga on a regular basis. My favorite moment in yoga comes at the end of class, when the instructor tells us to take one, last, big inhale to integrate all the benefits of our practice, and then one, final, noisy exhale to let go of all that does not serve us; after that, we go on breathing for the rest of our day without even thinking about it. It’s a great metaphor for the MALS experience, which is so mindful and focused when we are in class, and then—after we graduate—becomes integral to us as individuals, essential and yet still beneath our consciousness, like our everyday breathing. This brings to mind the last stanza of one of my favorite poems, “Inspiration” by Margaret Atwood. The poem’s persona addresses the source of their unrequited love:
“I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.”
When we integrate MALS into our lives and work, it may go “unnoticed” each time we mentally reach for the tools the program gave us, but I think we would all agree that having them at our disposal has certainly proven to be necessary.
Read more from this issue: