Taylor M. Hoffman '99

Taylor M. Hoffman '99 profile pic

I grew up in a log cabin barely ten minutes away from Björklunden. Idyllic in so many facets but also limiting. My high school was K-12 in one building and – probably an exaggeration – some classmates had not crossed the Brussels Hill. I applied to one college, Lawrence (obviously given context), as my guidance counselor insisted it would be the right school for me to grow, learn, and relish the liberal arts experience. It's a good thing I was accepted as I do not recall her insisting I have a Plan B. My earliest memories on campus include meeting my next-door neighbor in Coleman who was from Tanzania (we were inseparable freshman year and he convinced me to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro) and being utterly confounded by The Republic as I read it in the sun outside Main Hall.

I grew into my own under the tutelage of Professors Adenwalla, Hah, and Longley. While initially so intimidating, I learned how Chong-do could not have been warmer or more caring and I cherished our trips to the Viking Room. Professor Adenwalla did his best so that I could do my best in law school. On my Con Law mid-term, he wrote, "I expect much better on the final exam" – underlined three times in red. In retrospect, I question if my midterm had really been that bad. I think Professor Adenwalla was simply trying to scare me so I'd take it to the next level. It worked and I did well in a subsequent Con Law class, this time with Professor Barack Obama. Professor Longley and I co-wrote a chapter in a book together. He arranged it so I could present it at a conference in an incredibly ornate setting in St. Petersburgh, Russia. That summer, he invited me to use his flat in Budapest as a base to travel Eastern and Central Europe.  In this pre-9/11 era (and its lighter security), I could crash the US ambassador's Fourth of July party in Moscow, which included a private Wynton Marsalis concert.  I had simply called and explained I had misplaced my invitation (which I had obviously never received).  Clearly, I was gaining confidence (perhaps there are other words to describe it too).   

Lawrence professors demand excellence from their students. They demand excellence in their academics and as educators, on an individual student basis. There are many places I could have received an excellent academic education but undoubtedly few with such rich life experiences and the education that comes with those experiences. Thank you.