Brown Essay

“It is only once you have lost everything that you are free to pursue anything.”
This quote, from Chuck Palahnuik’s novel Fight Club, was used in an introductory lecture in my Honors Philosophy class this August.   While not an ancient quote, spoken by Plato or Cicero, it was a quote that reflected the virtues of my Philosophy professor, Jonathan Mederos.   Mr.   Mederos walked into our classroom the first day of class in silence; a “towering” five-foot-six-inches, and with hair slicked back into curls, leading us to find difficulty in taking him seriously.   Since we, being Seniors, are “infallible”, we did not regard him with the merit he deserved.   We were aware of the fact that he was a Belen graduate from 2003, which was (in our minds) not very long ago.   We also made the assumption that since he was young like us, and had once sat in our desks, that his personality would be malleable:   such is not the case.
Mr.   Mederos asked us to introduce ourselves, and as is typical of Senior young men, we turned our introductions into a spitting-contest:   we compared SAT scores, girlfriends, and GPAs.   Mr.   Mederos remained quiet, as he knew he had a life changing experience in store for us.   When the last student had spoken, he began his address.
Using the criteria we deemed important, he told us about his Senior year at Belen Jesuit.   He told us he scored a 1590 on his SAT, was a top recruit for baseball, cross-country, and track, and graduated third in his class.   Once he had silenced us, he began his true sermon.
In the weeks following his acceptance into Harvard his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.   Since his mother had raised him alone, he was forced to decide between fostering his academic growth, or remaining at home to care for her.   After consulting his girlfriend of three years he decided to stay home to care for his mom.   Up until this point, we thought his story was a melodramatic account used to scare us into becoming men:   we were gravely...