Meet Our Students

Bryon Garner

Bryon Garner is a Contract Specialist for the Federal Government.

Ann Hackman

Ann Hackman is a Psychiatrist, specializing in Community Psychiatry, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Karyn Harrington

Karyn Harrington works in Public Affairs and Communications.

Highlights from the Annual MLA Colloquium

Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus, Baltimore, Maryland.

Who are our MLA students?

  • Individuals at all stages of their lives and careers, from recent college graduates to retirees.
  • Full-time career professionals in all fields and sectors of the economy including education, law, health care, corporations, non-profit organizations, professional artists, the government (federal, state, and local), and military (both active duty and veterans).

What do our students gain out of the program?

  • Personal intellectual enrichment
  • Credential as a professional or academic stepping stone
  • Strengthened critical thinking, analytical, and communication skills
  • Improved ethical reasoning and heightened social awareness
  • Greater understanding of the world from diverse perspectives
  • Increased capacity for innovation and creativity

What some of our students have said about the program:

The MLA program doesn’t just combine disciplines; it does not just provide discrete insights into the various liberal arts. By its very structure, the program demonstrates the interrelations between those disciplines, the interactions between the content and boundaries of knowledge belonging to all fields of human inquiry. This special characteristic enabled me to develop some sort of rounded knowledge on both the theoretical and practical aspects. In other words, when I examine any type of discourse, I am able to better evaluate the intersecting fields shaping that discourse, and I can better see the thing in the unity constituted by the different points of view. This ability contributed to my self-development immensely, and I owe to the MLA program all that springs from it.

The MLA program provided me with the academic setting I needed to fully explore certain topics I had been grappling with and trying to more fully understand for quite a while. I think that we are all shaped in one way or another by our past experiences. I also think that at times we’re trying to understand just how those experiences shape us, while fundamentally searching for the why. Why did certain events take place? What drove our decisions? What influenced the decisions of others? Where do the decisions of others intersect with our own? How does it all fit together in the grand scheme of things? How does what happens at the macro level impact the micro level? How does the human condition play into all of this? I know I have personally asked myself these questions along with probably an infinite amount of others in search of knowledge and greater understanding.

The MLA program has helped me firmly establish and develop my own personal way of knowing, which is something I will continue to build upon throughout the rest of my life, which is something I very much look forward to. I’ve learned a great deal along my journey, maybe most importantly I’ve learned that it’s a lot of fun to explore and push the boundaries of personal understanding. By pushing boundaries, getting uncomfortable, and testing myself I have grown academically, intellectually, and personally; my perspectives and horizons have changed for the better. Over the past three years, I have explored topics that are both deeply personal and meaningful, forging strong connections between myself and the intellectual course work. Through this program, I have truly gained a better understanding of myself, the world, and my place in it.

Perhaps the most significant advantage a person such as me can take away from the MLA program is an understanding of the course of history so as to form an idea where the future may lead us. I believe that I am now less susceptible to manipulation and have an improved ability to recognize when others are attempting to influence me, in support of whatever cause.

Through the diversity of the coursework offered by the program I have been exposed to a variety of perspectives and content that I never otherwise would have encountered. I can truly say that my views have been impacted by the issues covered in class. Additionally, I felt that each class was designed thoughtfully enabling me to dive into subjects that I had never explored but not feel too overwhelmed by the complexity of the content.

Through the MLA experience, I have developed a greater capacity for “not-knowing” – that is, new-found patience with putting the pieces of a puzzle together and a heightened level of comfort with “incompleteness.” I have learned to delay conclusions and to tame reactions. To craft an informed perspective on a topic that is new to me, I will now consult various sources, entertain different opinions, and survey the context. I’ve learned to remain open even when I have developed an educated opinion, knowing that at some point my blind spots will be exposed, so stay tuned. It is the tension between “already” and “not yet” that I have learned to bear more confidently and comfortably, as the process of synthesis is ongoing and the water that I’m sailing on is ever-expanding.

Though on many fronts the MLA journey is intensely personal, it is inevitably collective. The learning always culminates in listening to and synthesizing voices from fellow MLAers. It is the greatest joy to explore a given subject with learners of diverse walks of life and to allow my eyes to be directed to new vistas over and over. In a noisy, busy but lonely modern world, it is indeed a profound privilege to engage in meaningful dialogues with people and to transcend the narrow focus of a transactional life.

The MLA journey has made me a more discerning reader, a more conscientious writer, a more robust synthesizer and a much humbler learner. Though the reading, writing and classroom discussions have engaged and sharpened the brain, there is another layer of meaning beneath the intellectual growth that is perhaps less measurable. I am reminded of Plato’s cave analogy: the MLA journey is not a filling-the-bucket experience, but a process of being turned to the light. It’s an incredible feeling to be able to approach a subject that was personally meaningless in the past with an appreciation and excitement powerful enough to intrigue others. The “light” has helped me adopt a new posture through which I now relate to the past, the present and the future. The “light” has revealed a world much richer and layered.

The MLA program has provided a personal outlet, allowing me to continue seeking answers to questions that, at times, I did not even know I was asking. It has fostered the ability to challenge the status quo and learn to approach challenges from unique points of view. It has allowed me to forge my own path by enrolling in courses that were familiar to me, and others which were much more challenging. Most of all, the program has been a conduit of growth and confidence, as it has provided a foundation of knowledge which has prepared me to engage with the world in broader and deeper ways.

In our ever-changing, fast-paced, sometimes volatile environment, we urgently need citizens engaged with the liberal arts who are poised and ready to understand – willingly – ourselves and others in order to make the world around us a better place. Programs like the MLA allow us to do just that. They allow us to solve problems, challenge assumptions, recognize contexts in order to better connect to the past, and, perhaps most importantly, foster open-mindedness. In addition, and, perhaps most importantly, the liberal arts allow us to live with empathy. They foster leaders who value and embrace diversity. This is accomplished, in part, because they provide us with a deeper sense – and therefore, deeper appreciation – of the past. The liberal arts provide us with the opportunity to see and understand the world from myriad viewpoints, which, in turn, allows us to grow as human beings.