A Study in Opposites


Few majors are as different from one another as philosophy is from fine and performing arts, but Helena Kemper '15 of Manhattan, N.Y., a double major in both of those fields, feels they keep her in balance.

"Philosophy helps me expand mentally, and theater helps me expand both mentally and physically," she explained. "The two together give me a different and broader perspective from what I used to have."

For her fine and performing arts (FPA) major, Kemper is focusing on the theater.

"If an actor has the right technique, they have the ability to embody the role they are playing. You can tell a really good actor from an okay actor by how much you're moved by their performance," Kemper said.

When it comes to philosophy, "I like the fact that anything can be wrong - or right - depending on how you approach it," she explained. "Everyday life relates to my philosophy classes. It amazes me how naive I am about a subject until I am fully exposed to its details."

Her future plans include going to law school, on her way to achieving her career goal of becoming a judge. "I see philosophy as an essential part to understanding the general concepts in law."

According to Kemper, "My classes are everywhere. One minute I'm talking about women's suffrage, then the next I'm talking about [Russian actor] Constantin Stanislavsky, and moving through time and space. It definitely balances out the highs with the lows."

Her FPA studies recently took Kemper to Haiti, where she and seven other arts students from MCLA were immersed in the country's culture.

"Being an American, and coming from America, gives us a different perspective on life and the countries around us," she said. "It isn't until you take yourself outside of the opinion of our media that you are able to gain a real perspective of these other countries. Usually, we only see the negative side, and Haiti was awesome!"

In Haiti, the people greet one another by saying, "bon soleil," which means "good sun."

"To them it means, 'I see the sun in you, I see the light in you.' As an American, I've noticed that we take a great many things for granted and we rarely acknowledge the solace that we have in ourselves to bestow upon others in their time of need," Kemper said. "When I heard this saying, it awakened something inside of me."

Besides her trip to Haiti, Kemper's activities at MCLA include serving on the President's ALANA Student Advisory (PASA) and on the Judicial Board, which allow her to be a voice for the student body. She also is a member of Dance Company, participates in the Pathways program and is involved in various theater productions on campus.

However, Kemper's favorite thing to do appears to contradict her activity on campus: She loves to curl up on her bed to read a book or watch a movie.

"I am usually the type of person who wants to keep to myself, but the community here is very welcoming," she said. "So, when I want to go out, I do."

The best part of being an MCLA student, she said, is being able to live and study in the calming atmosphere of the Berkshire scenery, which surrounds the campus. "I have changed a lot. I have calmed down more, and I have become more independent and more driven."