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Postgrad: Carlin Gettliffe ’09 Pt. 2

Born and raised in Boulder, CO, Carlin moved to Rochester, NY, after high school to attend school at the University of Rochester. Since graduating in May 2009, Carlin has continued to pursue his love for traveling while co-founding a technology business with two other Rochester alums. This blog post is part of a continuing series of posts (6) about Carlin and his time at the University of Rochester.

By Carlin Gettliffe

There are two things that I see as instrumental in my decision to return to the University of Rochester. The first was a hunch (which turned out to be correct) that many of my first impressions of the University and city reflected my own hastily formed attitudes toward a drastically new environment as much as (or more than) they did the new environment itself.

The second is a bit more complicated.

During my time volunteering at the leprosy colony outside of Delhi, I had noticed a community of destitute families living under a highway overpass. After some thought, I decided to see if I could help out by teaching them a craft that would generate income. I immediately thought of bracelet and necklace making using hemp, the kind of items that foreigners and tourists might be interested in buying. I found a translator, spent a day running around Delhi buying beads and supplies, and got started.

To make a long story short, it didn’t work. I was struck by the fact that the most powerful tool we have to help us navigate the deep complexities of the human condition is education. The reason that I was unable to help those families was not a lack of creativity or inspiration; it was a lack of insight into the root causes of their struggle. It is education that leads to insight, and it is insight that leads to progress. It was in that moment of failure that the full worth of an education really hit home for me.

And so, I returned to Rochester with the conscious intention of re-engaging with a place that I had previously written off. I moved off campus into the top floor of a great little house in the 19th ward, right across the river from the University. I found a roommate, a Nigerian guy who was just entering the Simon School of Business.

The neighborhood, as it turned out, was one of the friendliest I’ve ever lived in; a tight knit and caring community of people. I dove back into classes. I got out into Rochester for concerts and events. I got involved with various projects and groups and, low and behold, Rochester didn’t turn out to be quite the stark foreboding place I once assumed it to be.

Seeing the University of Rochester as part of a wider community changed my perspective on what it really means to be in college. Yes, it’s about taking classes and writing papers, but it’s also about exploring your own ability to make an impact. Stepping beyond university walls opens up a whole other range of potential experiences and opportunities for learning.

To be continued…

[Part 3]

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