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Sterning It: A Transfer's Perspective

I was never one for convention. Of course, as those words cross my computer screen, I realize that I am writing them on a Mac laptop, my Hadaya ring occasionally tapping the keys, and my half-chipped maroon nail polish staring me in the face. Convention: 1, Sara: 0.

Convention always aggravated me when it came to the Jewish world. In the Jewish world, there was nothing unique about me. I was just another 5’2” brunette Jewish girl with bad eyesight and perhaps a slightly cultured sense of humor. I had nothing to offer that another 5’2” brunette Jewish girl could not offer (and believe me, there are plenty of them). For this reason, I wanted to get away from convention. I wanted to be different.

This caused me to cross off Stern College as even a possibility of an option. Throughout high school, I fought the convention that seemed to be forced on me. Originally, I did not want to go to Israel for my gap year. I did not like the girls that went with the flow, followed the pack, and did everything in pairs. No, I was above that. I would stake my own path. I would not follow from high school to Israel and to Stern like so many of my contemporaries.

But I did end up going to Israel. I dropped out of my seminary after seven months. Convention: 1, Sara: 1. I then went to community college for a year. Convention: 1, Sara: 2. At community college I was unique. I was perhaps the only 5’2” Jewish girl and I delighted in it. I brought the Jewish perspective in all of my classes to rapt ears intent on learning more about that girl’s culture. But at the end of my first semester, I had a choice; I had to decide what to do next year.

My choices came down to the local university, the university downstate, or Stern College. Now, you might be asking yourself, how did this girl, the one who so wishes to be unique, even consider Stern as an option, while before she had considered it ‘convention’? Well, that’s a very good question. To answer it, though, is very simple: I grew up.

In high school, my choices were made solely based on what other people did—and whatever they were doing, by George, I would do the opposite. When I did grow up, my choices became less about rebellion and more about (how do you say this without sounding self-centered?) myself. A couple years’ perspective and I no longer needed to wear pants because everyone else was wearing skirts. A couple years’ perspective and I was ready to look at my choices based on merit and, especially in the case of my academic career, where I would find the most intellectually challenging atmosphere. Stern became a prominent option because it was a place I could see myself excelling, a place where I would be challenged, and a place where my Judaism could grow. Yes, I no longer could spout out random facts about Judaism to people who were so fascinated by it, but I sacrificed that in order to gain a community where I could share my Judaism with people who enjoy it just as much as I do.

I applied, and needless to say, was accepted. The question remains; am I following convention?