Mary Ann MaNais
I spoke to Mary Ann MaNais a few months into her Freshman year at the University of West Georgia where she was thinking about studying to become a doctor. She's grown up in an "average" high school culture and carries attitudes about school and life that would be considered normal for someone her age.

It was clear from her having relatives with advanced degrees that she comes from a family of high achievers and has high potential herself. Mary Ann expresses the uncertainties of youth with more balance and certainty than anyone else I've spoken to, which is all the more impressive given that she's surrounded by neither.

Interview Excerpts
Read the full interview :

"Until I reach a mature state — they think we’re supposed to be mature at this stage, just entering college, but it’s not necessarily true. We’re one or two years from high school — when I become a junior or senior, when I’m wiser and older, that’s when I’ll start to realize what I really want to do and what’s there for me…

"For me, I have to find advice to look toward a future that’s better for me. Right now I’m not necessarily comfortable, and I don’t necessarily know. I’m confused – like most kids my age – but I would still go out there and find any grants or any loans to help me head toward my future… "

"You have a weakness that you have to work on, and after you work on that it becomes a strength. So my weakness was my self-courage and my drive – I didn’t have too much at first because I was a kid, I was a child then. And I still consider myself not as an adult just because I’m here at college. I’m an average teenager who’s just getting into real life…"

"Universities are backwards. It’s not that they don’t know, it’s just that they’re not giving the right information to us at the right time. They’ve been stuck in this one mind frame and as time continues, nothing changes…

"I think that universities (are) stuck in this mind frame where they give classes according to their departments and their majors, give classes in everything besides what’s going to be in life … they don’t want to give you any hints, keys, success stories to life … they’re not going to give you exactly what you need to know: 'This is the key to life. This is what you’re going to learn in life!' No. It’s not that."

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Copyright © 2010, Lincoln Stoller. All rights reserved.