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Life studies

Gabriela Leskur | Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Unlike engineering majors who explain, “I’m an engineer,” us crazy, Plato-reading Program of Liberal Studies kids cannot refer to ourselves by our future careers.
But if we did, we would say, lawyer, author, doctor, artist, consultant, designer, teacher.

And that’s just the short of it.

This weekend, I had a small get-together with some of my fellow majors, and a few of my engineering friends stopped by. They asked us why we chose  PLS and what majoring in PLS means. While I can’t answer for all PLS majors, I can speak for myself.

My friend and I sometimes sound out the acronym PLS like “PLEES?” Although this pronunciation is usually due to our sleep deprivation and constant consumption of caffeine, our joke has truth to it.

In Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist,” Oliver says, “Please, sir, I want some more.” This search for more is what I feel defines PLS for me and is the reason I decided to major in it.

As crazy as it sounds, I don’t even really like reading. In high school, I was never the girl who walked around with a book in her hand every day. And yet, now I read hundreds of pages of material every week.

Why would I subject myself to this torture? Because when I finish reading, I get to go to class and talk about it. I sit around a table with amazing people talking about the implications of having a soul, debating the ways to use persuasion morally, questioning the purpose of human suffering.

Just like Icona Pop, “I don’t care. I love it.”

When I leave class, even if I’ve made a fool of myself, I’m happy. I’m excited I have more to read, more to learn, more to understand.

While at Notre Dame, I will go from reading Darwin to Aquinas to Euclid to Homer to Dostoyevsky. I’ve just begun my journey.

I wanted a major that challenged me – my ability to think, argue, understand. I wanted to sit around with cool people and talk about things that matter.

And that’s what I do. I sit, I talk, I read. I sit in the library surrounded by books for six hours, with only a highlighter and coffee.

I talk to my professor about how bad my paper is and how I can improve it. I have heated discussions about ancient philosophers and the thoughts of diverse thinkers.

As my business major friends are taking midterms, I’m working on three papers – one about a Shakespearean sonnet, one about the death penalty and one about Aristotle. As my biology friends are cramming for finals, I’m preparing for my oral exam – which means walking into a room, prepared for my professor to ask me anything I’ve read over the last semester, requiring me to synthesize works and think critically on the spot.

I like that PLS is all about looking for more. It’s not about finding the answers, but asking the questions. It’s about learning about the human experience and, on the way, learning how much you don’t know.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m majoring in PLS to learn that I know nothing. Call me Socrates.


Contact Gabriela at gleskur@nd.edu

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.