Last week relieved me of the senior thesis oral that I’d been waiting weeks for. Seniors finish writing their essays in February so that throughout the following Spring months, orals can be scheduled. Although students have small orals throughout their career at St. John’s College, the senior oral is a bit different, as it’s public. Anyone interested in your topic can come, but mostly it’s your friends, and occasionally it’s family.
My paper was entitled: “Narrative Self and the Desire for Authenticity in Virginia Woolf’s The Waves.” I was lucky enough to have a committee made up of three tutors who love the novel and have read it multiple times–even though it’s not on the program. My oral was scheduled at 9am, so I showed up to the Ault Evers room at about 8:40, retrieved the ceremonial gown from the closet, and set my stuff up. I waited in the side room as my committee tutors began to show up, and all my friends gathered in the Ault Evers room. When 9:00 came around, the tutors and I lined up and walked into Ault Evers. The Presenter introduced me, we all sat down, and the Chair asked me to read my précis. I read my précis—a kind of introduction to the discussion—and then the Chair proceeded to ask me an opening question. After that, we had a conversation. In the end it wasn’t scary or intimidating—it was fun.
We concluded after an hour, continued the ceremonial procession, and then I was free to go outside the library, where everyone waited for me on the steps with champagne and flowers. As is tradition, I popped a bottle of champagne over my précis, and then we drank mimosas in the sun. New experiences are always accompanied by fear, but if they lead to learning and growth, then let your fervor for the strange & new overcome your fear.
Hurray! for new experiences, challenging discussions, and being surrounded by worthy friends all the while.