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What a Great Education Means to Me

Taylor Stockdale
A good education is important – vitally important. It allows you to reason, to calculate, to think creatively, to understand, and have perspective. Grounded in the liberal arts, it can provide the historical context to evaluate and detect patterns, to judge and formulate sound self-government. Pursuits in the arts drive the heart of our language and culture. Studies in science and math are the very foundations of medicine and engineering which of course lead to innovation, product conceptualization, design, and manufacturing which eventually leads to economic growth and development.

A good education is vital in many, many respects – but a great education takes you a step further. A great education prepares you to care, to have empathy, to be heroic, and to take action.

Webb strives day in and day out to fulfill both callings – to be a good school in which you are prepared for success, and a great school in which you are prepared for the inevitable, unforeseen challenges of life. I’ve always felt the difference between an ordinary person and a leader is in the way the person handles the latter.

We offer not only a highly-rigorous and wonderfully-balanced curriculum yielding terrific acceptance records into the nations’ most competitive colleges, but we also have a commitment to reaching out and helping others.

Since my time here, several superb examples of this great education come to mind, such as my former student, Dr. Rahmi Mowjood ’90, who went over to Sri Lanka following the Tsunami in a massive relief effort.

Or Dr. Katy Carr White ‘87, who told me once that she didn’t really even want to become a medical doctor, but that she did so because she felt it was the best way to help people who were suffering the most. She’s worked in clinics in the worst areas of Mexico and India and is currently setting up clinics in South-Central L.A.

Or Jan Mitchell ’86 who led the charge in helping those who suffered during the Houston floods of 2001.

Or the way in which the entire Webb community came to the aid of Laurel Scherer ’89 when she lost her home in the mud slides in Laguna several years ago.

Or the way in which the entire Webb community came to aid of Drew Hubbell ’80 when he lost his home in the fires of San Diego.

And the list goes on, and on. It’s not just our alumni, but the whole school community - our annual toy and food drives, the dramatic growth of the service council, international service trips to Ecuador and Peru, and this spring to Fiji, just to name a few.

The students at Webb are in a community that is teaching them things much larger than how to lead a successful life. The small class sizes, the fabulous facilities, the technology, the college counseling – it’s all very impressive when you compare it to any school in the nation. But there’s something else at work here – an education that runs far deeper, preparing you for more. It comes through in such activities as peccary trips, chapel talks, Webb Day, Honor Committee events, ASB activities, retreats, and formal dinners, or just being with your friends and teachers – living here together on this campus, learning to care for one another. It’s all in an effort to give you the experiences you will need, and the passion you deserve, to lead successful lives and to make the country and world a better place.
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    Sponsored by the Robert ’53 and MeiLi Hefner Foundation and offered here at Webb to two current students, The Hefner Initiative aims to foster a close and positive relationship between the people of China and the US. This extraordinary 12-day summer program includes travel this year to Beijing and Suzhou—allowing for living/learning opportunities with host students and families.
     
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