The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Division of Student Services

Rory Bowman

Class year: 1990
Major: Philosophy
Company/organization: Self-unemployed.
Job title: Currently on sabbatical.

I would love to connect with students. In addition or instead of attending the Schmooze, I am available for one:one meetings during the weekend. Drop me an email and we'll arrange a time to meet. I arrive on Friday.

How did you get where you are? (e.g., education, brief work history, mentors)

After graduation I was a charter member of Teach for America and worked in education until 1998, when I burned out. From necessity I founded my own business and worked as a computer consultant for fifteen years, specializing in Mac OS integration for small businesses and non-profits. Not wanting to do that for another fifteen, I am currently taking a sabbatical to evaluate my next transition.

Mostly I learned by having the romantic visions that brought me to Reed shattered, largely using tools I acquired at Reed. It was not always pleasant but it has been deeply rewarding, mostly.

What lessons have you learned along the way that you'd like to pass on to current Reed students?

One comes to Reed with a certain respect for authority and trust in a benevolent system, which must be shattered to achieve mature clarity. The sooner one stops trying to understand how things are supposed to work and examining how they actually *do* work, the more quickly one can create a meaningful career. Two Gary Snyder quotes that are worth passing on are (1) his assertion that Reed is a hard place to get into and a hard place to get out of and (2) the "real work" is whatever work makes you more real.

If you are happy to die a bourgouis cog in an industrial machine, don't waste my time: That is not the highest use of a Reed education.

In what ways you think you can help Reed students?

I would dissuade students from thinking that further degrees will necessarily help them in the world to come, and encourage them to apply their skills and natural appetites to larger personal and social purposes: a good life within a more honest and just society. I do not believe that the larger society has their interests at heart and would point them toward considering what they should do, if they agree that might be true.

I hope I can help people better understand the difference between a job, a life and a career, thus saving heartache and undproductive dead-ends.

What else should students know about you? (e.g., volunteer engagement, avocations, interests)

I've used my modest economic and business skills mostly to subsidize a larger career of social and cultural activism, although it took me decades to realize I was doing this.

I was blooded with gruntwork in my twenties, built technical competence in my thirties and then moved toward more mature leadership in my forties, working now as a board member for social-justice causes such as food cooperatives and the American Civil Liberties Union. Understanding this natural, generational arc earlier would have helped me pursue it more deliberately.

My character is such that I love to think, fight and write, not necessarily in that order. Such clear self-knowledge earlier would have saved me a lot of trouble.