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COLUMN: Being a part of Ford Center history

When I was at the Ford Foundation event this past Friday, it felt really cool to be standing in the press section with other university officials with cameras and recorders. It felt awesome to be present when Ole Miss announced big news to the campus like a $25 million contribution for a new science building as well as a walkway and an area designated to William Faulkner.

Immediately, I recalled how bad I was at STEM subjects in school — the only ones I liked were geology, geometry and astronomy. They were all intro level classes I took in my last year of high school except for the astronomy 101 class; I took it my freshman year in community college. I liked writing papers about the history of constellations and I loved reading about the influential scientists in history but I could never really “do science.”

While never being a prodigious science major, I have always respected the students who could figure out complex formulas in college algebra and organic chemistry. Being a journalist, I will most likely have to write about students who do well in those STEM fields later in life.

Tying that story into the Ford Foundation’s gift, I firmly believe that STEM students and liberal arts students should be treated the same regarding funding.

We often place a lot of value on technical and science based jobs, but it seems like we forget there are two types of people and we need both. If every student became a science major and pursues a career in STEM, who will write our next great American novel?  Who will paint the next masterpiece? STEM students typically make more money, but our “starving artists” are the ones giving the next generation food for thought. These dynamics need to be in mind when we are considering academic and human diversity, not just biologically, but psychologically as well.

Ole Miss should strive to keep the academic atmosphere even to provide students with the choice of a major rather than a choice of scholarly quality. Students will fall into one of either academic category, so why not support every effort to reflect that in our public universities?

The university did exactly that when the foundation included a tribute to Faulkner. It’s symbolic that the pathway to the area known as “Science Row” stops at a literary great’s homage. To me, it represents the connection between academic disciplines.

It simply felt good to be recording and witnessing a historic event on campus. One day, when I’m old and wear my “Mumu” and watch soaps, I am going to brag to other nursing home residents how I was there when they announced the new science building on campus. If you think of it, somebody like me had to be there for each building that was added to the campus. That makes me feel connected to Ole Miss’s history in a way I didn’t expect.

Lyndy Berryhill is a staff writer for the Oxford Eagle. Contact her at lyndy.berryhill@oxfordeagle.com.