The Joys of Selectivity

Laura Hart '15

Photo courtesy of Laura Hart '15.

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

Like the main characters in her favorite books, John Dickinson scholar Laura Hart ’15 is an idealist and a romantic who values honor, bravery and loyalty above all. She’s also a self-described "science geek," as well as a tutor, student-writer, nature-lover and film-noir fan with two very different majors—English and biology—and she enjoys refurbishing furniture by hand. Asked how she finds time to indulge her many interests, Laura says selectivity is key. Last year she found an ideal way to combine her joint love of writing and science when she was named copy editor of Dickinson Science Magazine.


English and biology.

Clubs and organizations:

Norman M. Eberly Multilingual Writing Center (co-head tutor), Belles Lettres Literary Society (co-president), Dickinson Science Magazine (copy editor), first-year mentor and English Department Student Advisory Committee.

Favorite books:

My favorite authors are Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott (though certainly not for Little Women), Laura Ingalls Wilder, L.M. Montgomery and J.R.R. Tolkien. My favorite poets are Edna St. Vincent Millay and Pablo Neruda. For me, the best stories are about adventure, longing, bravery, loyalty and home.

Favorite movies:

The Philadelphia Story (1940) and Laura (1944).

On selecting a major:

I was one of those kids who shuffled out of the library each week with a stack of books so high I couldn’t see over them, so the English major was a given. As for the biology major, I spent a lot of time in my grandmother’s back garden when I was little; I definitely inherited her appreciation for plant life, if not her knack for keeping plants alive. Admittedly, English and bio don’t have a lot of overlap, but I’m always finding readings that combine my interests.

Favorite Dickinson experience:

Working at the Writing Center. I couldn’t ask for more varied or engaging work. Best of all, everyone is so appreciative. I’ve had tutees stop me in the caf or on Britton Plaza—weeks after my session with them—to tell me that they got an A, were awarded a scholarship or received honors for their theses.

Favorite place on campus:

The window ledge in East College’s fourth-floor, eastern stairwell. Preferably on a rainy day, for writerly ambience.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Warm bread with butter.

As a kid I wanted to be …

… a pediatric heart surgeon. I imagined that when I met new patients, I’d say, “Hi, I’m Dr. Hart, the heart surgeon,” and after I answered the patients’ and parents’ questions, I’d give [the child] a heart-shaped helium balloon.

Little-known talents:

I like to repair and refinish old wood furniture by hand (to be honest, I don’t have a steady hand with power tools). I also enjoy piecing quilts by hand.

Recommended summer reading:

Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf, C.S. Lewis’ Till We Have Faces and Angela Carter’s “The Bloody Chamber” and “The Company of Wolves.”

Post-Dickinson plans:

There are so many exciting possibilities that it’s hard for me to choose a single path. The one thing I’m pretty set on is a having a little place of my own along the East Coast where I can hunker down between occasional adventures abroad. I'd invite family and friends to visit.

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:

You might be able to do it all, but you can’t do it all well. Consistently stretching yourself just that little bit too thin will affect the quality of your work and personal and professional relationships. It’s not enough to be passionate. You also have to be committed, and a prerequisite for genuine commitment is actually having the time to devote to an organization or project.

Proudest accomplishment:

My little brother is seven years younger than me, and he’s infinitely cooler (by middle-school standards) than I could ever dream to be. He thinks I’m a bit of a goody-two-shoes know-it-all, but when he gets in over his head, I’m still the first person he calls. I feel really lucky to have built a relationship like that with him; he knows that no matter how busy I am or how appalling his latest scrape, I’ll be there when he needs me. 

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Published July 21, 2014