Student Profile

Jurrell Lewis
Jurrell Lewis ’17
New York, NY

Recipient of the Katie A. Nash Odyssey Scholarship

What did you do this past summer?
This summer I worked at Telegraphe Cafe in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood and travelled to Berlin for two weeks. I spent a lot of my time doing the leisure reading I had been planning to do since September of 2013, but had never gotten around to due to the course load here at the University of Chicago. It was a much welcomed period of rest and pursuit of personal academic interests, especially my trip to Berlin where I was able to practice my German a little and really experience the German culture that I had been learning about throughout the German sequence.

Please comment on the pursuit of your major and minor, as well as any other academic interests.
My major is Fundamentals: Issues and Texts in the New Collegiate Division and “Why do we read tragedy?” is my question for the program. So far I have taken three courses for my major, Thinking Tragedy, The Russian Novel, and Machiavelli’s Political Thought, as well as four quarters of the German sequence. Before coming to the University I had not thought of majoring in fundamentals or studying philosophy, english, theater, or film, but the students and faculty here opened many doors for me, both in terms of my own mind and interests and in terms of my academic career here at the University and in life. Currently my interests lie in literature, cinema, theater, and philosophy, and my fundamentals courses has pushed the limits of my thought, changed my academic direction, and are prime reasons that I have enjoyed my time and studies here. My major and newfound academic interests have allowed me to challenge, enlighten, and enjoy myself.

Please tell us about a significant or memorable experience you have had during your time at UChicago.
I think that the most significant experience that I have had at the University of Chicago was this quarter during office hours with my professor, William Nickell, who teaches The Russian Novel. We were sitting in his office discussing Crime and Punishment, and I was attempting to begin outlining an argument connecting this course to the course that began my Fundamentals major, Thinking Tragedy. Not only was this one of the first courses where I was able to a make fully realized argument from one text to another and feel confident that I was “on to something,” but additionally it was one of the first times that a professor made me feel as if I was not only “on to something,” but that that something was very worthwhile. We sat for 45 minutes to an hour, and he even ignored a call, as we discussed my ideas, secondary texts I could read, and fleshed out the seeds of an argument that I now have connected to a reading of Petersburg and hopefully will expand to courses I may take next quarter like The American Classic or Shahnameh or even in the spring like Moby Dick.

What activities do you participate in outside of the classroom? Are there any that are new from last year?
As of spring quarter last year I was involved in University Theater, the student-run coffee shop in Cobb Hall and the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel Choir. Now I am no longer a part of the Chapel Choir, but am a brother of the Sigma Chi fraternity at University of Chicago, initiated this past winter.

As a scholarship recipient, to what extent are you grateful for the support you received? What are your thoughts on how you might one day give back to the University of Chicago?
Without this scholarship I would not be at the University of Chicago. When applying here as a senior in high school this was my top choice University, I told my mother that I didn’t care about money, I would take out loans and work extra jobs in order to attend a prestigious university that would give me the ability to better myself and hopefully lead to my success. She said that, while admirable, that was probably not an option. This scholarship and financial aid that I’ve received has made my education possible. I, and my mother and other family members, could not be more grateful for your support, and the words “thank you” do not suffice, but at this stage in my life I cannot give more than just that, thank you. Hopefully though, as I grow intellectually and further my career I can give back to the University by donating, offering my services as an alumni and furthering the reputation of the University by producing meaningful and important work in my field, whatever that may be.

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