Robin is smart. Like, smartest kid in school smart
by Robin Happel
There’s a saying in the tech industry that if you’re not paying, you’re the product. The summer before my freshman year, my parents warned me that as a scholarship student, Fordham would likely see me as a petting zoo llama, a toy for the Bretts and Bryttneighs of our campus to see how the other half lives.
In my very first meeting with my honors advisor, she implied that I flirted with professors for my grades, because she doubted a girl from my background could be “actually smart.” But this isn’t the story of someone finally marring the Catholic Church’s flawless record on taking sexual harassment seriously. And this isn’t the story of all the other times I forced myself to swallow what I wanted to say, because being kicked out of honors would throw off my five-year plan.
the paper is a little inane, in many ways. We once spent almost an entire weekend blaring the Wii soundtrack looking for hidden messages. (Sadly, we didn’t find any.) But it’s also one of the only places on campus where I felt less like a llama and more like a person. the paper gave me a voice on a campus that consistently told me I had no right to protest when honors professors started ranting about how much they hated my gay friends, or how the government secretly controls the weather. For a long time, the paper was one of the only tolerant places I could turn. (Plus we did get John Kerry to tell us where the weather machine is!)
Most of all, the paper taught me that you don’t have to be perfect to try something new. One day, I just started covering UN policy. Since then, I’ve seen the Secretary-General speak in person, something I never could have imagined was possible. I was so inspired by diplomats from Fiji and other island nations I met through my reporting that I actually applied to law school, and I’m happy to say I’ll be attending one of the only law schools in the country that works with the Small Island Developing States group at the UN. Without the paper, I might never have discovered that passion.
It would be easy to say that the paper changed my life because of the doors it opened for me, but even more than that it changed my perspective. I don’t always have to wait for permission, or plan it all out. Even though I joined relatively late, I feel so much closer to our other editors than some people I’ve known here all four years. We may not always know exactly what we’re doing, but I could have never asked for a better bunch of people to help me figure it out, or just unearth deeply buried memories of Veggie Tales. I have absolutely no idea where we’ll all be in five years, but I’m so excited to find out. My fellow editors are already so talented. For those pursuing writing careers, it will be amazing to keep reading your work outside our grungy McGinley basement. I never expected to enjoy my time here so much, and because of that I’ve learned to hope for the best a bit more.
The honors advisor who assumed I flirted with my professors is now a high-ranking member of the faculty senate. She’ll probably hate this article, and I probably don’t care. Like other administrators, she prefers that I get her permission before saying anything about her in print. But what’s the best that can happen? She might kick me out of honors, and I should have left years ago.