A break to remember: Stanford faculty reminisce about their college summers
Stanford faculty members look back at the memorable experiences from their college summers that helped shape who they are today.
With many students working, interning and traveling this summer, Stanford News Service asked faculty to reflect on what they did during summer breaks from college.
Their stories were as varied as their academic disciplines.
Whether it was working the night shift at a warehouse, cleaning bed sheets at a nursing home, interning for a major news network, Congress member or public defender, working at a hotel in Japan or jumping from an airplane – the summer experiences faculty had as students provided some unexpected and valuable life lessons.
They learned how feeling nervous can be helpful and sometimes necessary. They saw that failure may offer more learning potential than success. They discovered that the path to one’s career isn’t always direct, and that a “dream job” might not be the right fit, after all. They found that defying norms and expectations can lead to profound, personal transformations.
For some faculty, even ordinary jobs led to extraordinary experiences that changed how they viewed the world, inspiring questions about social justice, democracy, artificial intelligence and gender equality – topics that became the foundation of their research and academic career.
From summers in 1963 to as recent as 2007, here are some of their stories.
Professor of anesthesiology
Professor of bioengineering
Assistant professor of history
“I wanted to do something with my career where I could, at the end of the day, come home, look myself in the mirror and say that I took a tiny, little step to make the world a better place.”
– FORREST STUART, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY
Director of the U.S.-Asia Security Initiative, Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center
Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution
Professor emeritus of history
“Seeing the lab for the first time, I think it was amazing to me that this was a place where people worked. That summer was filled with some disbelief that this was actually people’s jobs.”
– DUSTIN SCHROEDER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF GEOPHYSICS
Professor of communication
Professor of history
Professor of French
Professor of surgery
“In the summer of 1969, I thought just getting a regular job somewhere or going on vacation was not sufficient to address the pressing issues of the time.”
– GORDON CHANG, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY
Assistant professor of art & art history
Professor of economics
Assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics