Change From Within


Q: Why did you choose to come to Earlham? What interested you in the school?

A: Originally I didn’t know anything about Earlham — originally I hardly knew anything about the Midwest. When I visited I was greeted by Admissions staff of students and faculty who all were interested in one thing: my interests. They didn't want to spend all day talking about their institution, or everything that they loved about Richmond, Indiana; but rather, about me. It was a stark difference from many of the other schools that I visited thereafter, and I realized that this was what opened me up to learn more about Earlham, Quakers, Richmond, Indiana, and the Midwest. I was given the opportunity to explore my passion, discover my interests, and develop them. That’s what Earlham, in my view, is all about.

Q: What did you decide to major in Human Development & Social Relations, and Spanish & Hispanic Studies?

A: Just before I returned from my study abroad in Nicaragua in the winter of 2011, I realized that there was no way that I could see myself going back into the laboratory to my then-Neuroscience major. After spending almost five months engulfed in a rich environment of persons, their everyday lives and a new language, I could only see doing more of the same. Studying HDSR and Spanish at Earlham allows me to connect with my deep and growing interest in people, as well as to continue speaking the Spanish language on a daily basis here on campus. The combination of the two will take me far because I’m not solely studying theory, but rather learning a lens for taking on a dynamic world.

Q: In the Fall your junior year you were elected as a one of the co-presidents if the Earlham Student Government. How does it feel to be in this position? What are your aspirations and how do you want to impact the Earlham community while in this position?

A: I had always had an idea of participating in governance in school.

For me, this opportunity represents the platform through which I (hopefully along with many other concerned Earlhamites) can truly tap into something within the Earlham ethos that would evoke a change from within — a change that would support those who want to support themselves and really work for the living and learning environment that they come here for.

When you ask what my ambitions are, my response is to see a community where involvement is a normal facet of life, where even if people don’t find the club or organization or course of study that speaks to them, that they create that organization or those courses, and find the people to work with who are just as into it as they are. My vision is to see a truly self-sustaining, yet interdependent student environment, supported by faculty, staff, trustees, parents, and alumni alike. We’re on our way there, and it’s a big vision, but I believe it’s possible, especially starting with student government as a linkage between so many different aspects of the community on campus today.

Q: Can you share about your involvement in other student activities and organizations? What is your role in them? What challenges do you have to face trying to combine all these activities with your responsibilities as the co-president?

A: At this point I’ve been involved in several organizations and activities, but what I have come to learn is that the work and energy that I put into those is more than just a temporary stint in a group, but rather one more piece in the larger scope of focus. Every time I’ve been involved in an organization or activity on campus, it focuses me on what I want, what I need, and how I can serve my community through knowing my own strengths better. At this point I simply hope that my experiences in extracurricular groups around campus will feed into our work in student government, and that my involvement elsewhere comes not as a distraction, but rather as a bold cornerstone of contribution.

Q: Have you decided on your career after Earlham? If so, what influenced your decision and what role Earlham played in it?

A: To be honest, I have thought about a lot of different ideas of my life experiences “post-Earlham”, none of which I have committed to, but many of which do really excite me. Earlham has always been a place of support and structure for me, so I don’t feel any worry or concern in finding the right career path along the way. I believe at this point it just takes good listening and patience.

Q: What are you mostly passionate about? What would you call your true passion?

A: Music and Spirituality. For me there’s no question about that. Music can so often be a spiritual experience; it’s just up to whether or not we are tuned in to hear it in that way. Now having lived some spiritual experiences with various ranges of music, it is becoming clear that following music, and living the spirituality of it, is a big passion of mine, and something that will continue throughout my life’s story.


Robert Awkward
Robert Awkward 2014

Hometown: Boston, Mass.

Interests: Student government, music, spirituality

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