Reflections from the “other side” of the desk by David duKor-Jackson
Even when you are gone, you can't really get away
It has only been a couple of months since I left MIT Admissions for a college counseling position in Providence, RI. While I am no longer an official member of the broader MIT community, I find that it is difficult for me to fully articulate how I can feel inexplicably connected to and simultaneously disconnected from this place that I spent the last several years.
To some degree, the disconnect is easier to explain. I no longer live in the Cambridge area. The Red Line no longer delivers me to the Kendall/MIT stop on a daily basis, and I no longer spend my days with the wonderfully idiosyncratic family of the admissions office, who will always be special to me.
The feeling of connection is a bit more complex. When I think of MIT, I think of an incredible place where amazing people do remarkable things every day. It is also a place where many discover that their quirks and eccentricities are an important dimension of who they are, and fit quite nicely into the mosaic of the community. When students, in particular, are freed from the pressure to conform, because their value to the community is based primarily on what they accomplish, they rarely cease to amaze.
While all of that is good, I was not, and am not, one of those amazing people. My role, which I was privileged to have, was simply to help identify and select them. As I reflect about my experience at MIT, I am reminded of something that Stu Schmill once said to me, which was essentially that MIT is a dynamic place and that any new member of the community (including me) changes it. At the time, I don’t think I fully appreciated what he was saying, and I certainly didn’t think about the ways that I would be changed by MIT.
In retrospect, it makes perfect sense. It is the same reason why the Ben Jones’ and Bryan Nance’s, whose tenures ended prior to my arrival, and the Matt McGann’s and Quinton McArthur’s whose tenures extend beyond my departure, continue to build and sustain connections here… Because they are MIT, and I suppose that even from a distance, to some degree, I am as well.
So despite my departure, I will probably continue to check in periodically (as long as I am permitted to do so) to share insight and perspective from a variety of experiences, including my new life as a high school college counselor.