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Photo by Matt D’Annunzio

Haley Tilt ’16


Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Who I was when I got to Reed: I was a go-getter and very academic. In high school I published a literary magazine, did International Baccalaureate, and played clarinet until the sexism in my marching band got to me.

Influential book: Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) cured me of my fear of death.

A concept that blew my mind: Encounters with the ancient world teach you to be surprised and suspend your judgment. Being able to step inside another person’s perspective, even for a moment, is really valuable, and not a skill many disciplines outside of classics force you to develop quite so intensively.

Outside the classroom: I tutored middle-school students and low-income adults, helped restore our wetlands on canyon crew, and learned how to write code in the Software Design Studio.

Obstacles I overcame: There is sometimes a lack of awareness here with students who don’t realize what it is to have to work and go to school at the same time. Fortunately I’ve discovered there are plenty of people like me here, and I’m extremely proud that I’ve managed to feel at home in the Reed community.

How Reed changed me: As well as being an incredibly academic place, Reed has a strong culture of voicing political beliefs, both in the classroom and outside of it. That, combined with my work in low-income communities, got me thinking about how I want to live my life, and has left me feeling empowered to advocate for others.

Financial aid: I received Reed scholarships, Pell grants, Federal Work-Study, and was awarded a President’s Summer Fellowship, which allowed me to travel to Rome to complete a digital humanities project of my design. Some very kind alumni paid for me to be here. But relative to our resources, my mother also paid a lot for me to be here, and in addition to taking a full course load, I worked as many as 20 hours a week.

Thesis: Dying Young? Child development in Africa Proconsularis

What it’s about: The ancients didn’t have the same sense of child development that we have in a post-Dr. Spock world. I investigated perceptions of child development in Roman Africa between the 1st and 6th CE, focusing on the ways adults measured and marked phases in a child's life course. Relying heavily on mortuary and epigraphic records, I found that ancient Roman North African childhood was thought to consist of semi-distinct developmental stages. I've termed one of those stages the "amphora age." Some of the youngest children were buried in large amphorae, shipping vessels used for fluids—archeologists call this “tot in a pot.” Scholars venture that this is an attempt to mimic the womb, enclosing and protecting children’s bodies. 

What it’s really about: Dead babies. (And children.)

What’s next: Teaching has been my mission since high school, and I’m interested in the role technology plays in the classroom, especially with regard to empowering students to make their own historical arguments. This fall I'll be teaching high school social studies through Teach for America in Baltimore Public Schools.