Opinion: Northwestern Should Expand The Definition of Success and Give Me More Awards
Kourtni, Guest Columnist Over the last several weeks, I have become aware that Northwestern hands out lots of student awards. I cannot help but notice that I have received none of them, which is strange, considering all that I do. As a student, ex-vlogger, and Pisces, I think that it is unfair and destructive to narrow the definition of good personhood to exclude me. Northwestern should expand the basis upon which it hands out awards such that I am recognized as the exceptional person that I am.
I know what they want me to do. They want me to aim for the awards that already exist, but those awards place unfair focus on socially accepted activities such as classroom accomplishment and community service. It is not my job to conform to traditional standards of achievement; rather, achievement should be redefined such that it encompasses me. When you think about it, it makes sense for me to spend my time on Pinterest because that’s me being my truest self, and I think I should be recognized for that. I do not want to take away awards from people who are their truest selves when they working at soup kitchens. That would be stealing, which is against the 8th commandment of the United States Constitution, and I’m sorry, but is this America or ISIS?
I think I remember seeing something on Tumblr about Einstein struggling with basic mathematics. He turned out to be a genius! I am not doing well in my Econ 202 class, so I think it might be the same thing for me. As an adult, I may very well end cancer and racism, and the most detrimental thing to do to a person with my kind of potential is to let me go unrecognized for all of the things that I do. So long as we allow this narrow definition of success to persist, I will continue to question whether Northwestern values not only the person I am, but also the person I may someday be.
What I have come to realize is that something needs to change, and that something is not me. For me to know that I am the star student that I feel I am, Northwestern needs to start offering different awards that I might win. As long as they are giving out the “Abraham Demoz Prize for Outstanding Undergraduate Work in Linguistics,” they should give out awards that recognize my strengths, like the “Barack Obama Award for Responding to Ridiculous Prompts with Phenomenal Thesis Statements,” or perhaps the “Eleanor Roosevelt Courage Grant for Bravely Attending Class When the Weather Drops Below Forty Degrees,” and maybe even the “Morton O. Schapiro Prize for Substituting the Assigned Reading for Eduspirational Thinkpieces” I think that the addition of those awards and more could really give me a chance to win some awards.
I am incredibly special, and Northwestern’s restrictive definition of rewardable success is holding me back from being recognized as such. I urge students to maintain a healthy level of skepticism when examining student awards because I am great, and I do not have one. A simple reexamination of the definition of success at Northwestern University will reaffirm the fact that accomplishment is not what I do, but what has been inside of me all along.