Graduating Class: '07

Aitor Astobieta

When I came to MIT, I wanted to do computer science (Course VI). However, at the end of my first semester of freshman year, I decided to become a math major. I changed my major once again at the beginning of sophomore year, this time deciding to become a philosophy major, an unusual choice for an MIT student. Throughout all these changes, the only thing that remained constant was my decision to take one literature class per semester. During my senior year in high school, I had already developed a keen interest in literature, but I still considered it somewhat of a “hobby”, something that I did in my leisure time, not an activity that could eventually become my second major.

But the unexpected became reality. At first, I desired to complete my minor in literature. As time went by, however, I ended up taking more and more literature classes for their own sake. Thus, I had so many literature credits that Prof. Diana Henderson, my advisor, told me to consider becoming a literature major. After thinking about it for a while, I decided to follow through with Prof. Henderson’s advice. Having taken so many classes with the Literature department, I had already grown fond of the subject and of the faculty. The department made me feel at home, and my professors showed me day in and day out that scholarship and research could be combined with excellence in teaching, so I had no reason to decline the chance of turning into a literature major.

Furthermore, I noticed that Literature helped me in my philosophical endeavors. While philosophy taught me to tackle human problems in an organized and rational manner, literature taught me the “flesh and bones” aspect of seemingly abstract problems. As a result, literature also taught me that reason is just one part of reality, not the whole of it. I think that all these insights, and many others, gained with the Literature department at MIT will help me in my graduate religious studies at Harvard Divinity.