Photo by Matt D’Annunzio

Maya West ’11

English

Hometown: Seoul, Korea

Who I was when I got to Reed: I dropped out of three other colleges, because they mostly felt like exercises in credentialing. I was working as a translator but feeling creatively stifled.

Cool stuff I did: Oil painting. Montaigne. Yoga. Bill Ray’s lit theory class. Just hearing the name Baudrillard still fills me with the kind of conflicted passion/dread traditionally reserved for estranged ex-lovers. Hum 110. And Pete Rock [creative writing] had a huge impact.

Influential books: A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again by David Foster Wallace. Tristram Shandy was an astounding enaction of literary theory.

Favorite spot: The library breezeway. Whether it was 3 p.m. on a Friday with a leisurely sandwich or 3 a.m. during finals week with a clutch of bleak-faced peers, that bench always did me right.

Random thoughts: Reed is an amazing place. The professors are incredible—I know these are semantically vacuous words, but it’s true. It’s been a transformative experience. There’s no sphere of my life Reed hasn’t touched. I was a lot more cynical before Reed. Before, college was mostly about “investing in the future,” but that didn’t really work for me. My father’s death made me wary of putting your eggs in one basket. But the quality of the education at Reed, the sense that you are here to learn, not to get a good grade, but to understand—that made me feel engaged and challenged at every turn. It was a fabulous experience. There’s so much here. I never could have done it without financial aid, particularly the Osher Scholarship and the Eddings Scholarship.

Adviser: Stephan Clarke

Thesis:Home

What it’s about: A grief memoir about the death of my father, who died when I was a teenager. It started out as a novella about something else entirely but evolved over the course of the year.

What it’s really about: How we construct “self” through narrative.

What’s next: I’m giving myself two years to write before I start panicking.

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