By Michael Dominguez
At UC Santa Barbara, we students are surrounded by academically-seasoned minds within an elite research institution. College doesn’t hand you a career, you must build a career with your own hands, and your own mind. Universities hand you the tools to learn from your passions. But, how can we use these learning tool-kits to transform our own passions into a life-long goal? My answer: Curiosity.
During my sophomore year, I learned to see learning in a completely new light. I made it a habit to attend the office hours of my history instructor T.A. Joshua Rocha, and he became my mentor. I discussed my aspirations to become an investigative journalist with him.
We would discuss the depths of The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging by foreign correspondent Sebastian Junger. Through trial-and-error, my mentor and I learned from each other’s beliefs as well as from the books. I learned to understand classes not as a means to attaining a respectable GPA, but rather as an opportunity to grow from other students.
Then, in my Junior year, my journey with valued mentors continued. During a recent talk where my writing professor, Robert Samuels, discussed his latest book, Educating Inequalities: Beyong the Myths of Higher Education, I composed and asked a question. Samuels seemed surprised by the eloquence of my question. I used my professor’s passion and my curiosity to drive my own journalistic repertoire.
A couple of weeks ago, I was overtaken by my curiosity at an event with a foreign affairs reporter, Dexter Filkins. I had not even composed a question before going up to the microphone. Then, I pulled out my phone and quoted a phrase from Junger that my mentor Joshua Rocha and I had discussed. To my awe, Filkins responded, “Well, it’s funny that you mention Junger. I actually know him pretty well…” before offering an insightful answer to my question. From that experience, I learned that curiosity leads to bravery.
That is why curiosity is now the key to my universe; curiosity is crucial for any person who wants to build a relationship not only with books, but with faculty and peers too. So, to make the most of these precious few years in university - and particularly in the humanities - don’t listen to anyone who says “curiosity killed the cat.”
Michael Dominguez is a Junior at UC Santa Barbara studying the History of Public Policy.
Read more student coverage of Dexter Filkins here.