By Richa Bhattarai
Ms. Lasell has been a tutor at St. John’s college for four years now. She is popular among all her students for her leadership and lovely personality. Right after our Math class dispersed, Ms. Lasell and I sat down for a short conversation about her academic background, her hobbies and her appreciation for the college. It was a pleasure to see her switch from discussing Newton’s Principia with us to talking about wanting to learn watercolor painting.
Ms. Lasell heard about St. John’s College from her physics/chemistry teacher in high school. She did not consider applying to St. John’s as she had already decided that she wanted to major in Physics. However, St. John’s never left her radar as she always thought that it would be a good place for her to teach at. She went to University of Chicago for her undergraduate studies and majored in Math. Though she majored in Math, she was interested in all disciplines, and it was in college that she fell in love with Philosophy.
After finishing college, Ms. Lasell taught at a boarding school in Cambridge, MA. By then she knew that she wanted to do her PhD in Philosophy. It was then that she decided to go to St. John’s for her masters. She says that the graduate program in Liberal Arts helped her bridge the gap between being a math major in college to getting a PhD in Philosophy. After graduating from Santa Fe, she went to University of Texas and did her PhD in Ancient Philosophy.
When asked about her favorite program book Ms. Lasell paused for a bit and looked like she had a deep thought. She then said, “I don’t have to have a specialty here and I don’t have to have a favorite program book. I enjoy everything I spend the most time with.” Some of her favorite non-program books are My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard and A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. Ms. Lasell enjoys swimming and loves sports. She used to do a lot of sports before she became a tutor. She also fondly recalls of her time in Santa Fe when she used to go hiking on the mountains around campus.
Ms. Lasell is often seen interacting with her students outside of classes. She is a charismatic leader in class who inspires students to work harder by setting herself as an example. Students appreciate her for being concerned not just about their academic progress but also about their general well being. Ms. Lasell equally reciprocates the appreciation her students have for her. When asked about what she loves the most about her students and our community, she said that she really enjoys seeing her students care about learning for its own sake. “I like that our students are willing to learn from books, from conversations and from each other and are not always occupied thinking about grades and careers.”
It is tutors like Ms. Lasell that make our community what it is. With the presence of easily approachable faculty members, students at St. John’s feel comfortable, appreciated and cared about.