Written by CORC student worker, Brittni Hayes F09
If you’ve stepped foot in the Cognitive Science office within the last year, chances are you’ve been greeted with a smile and a cheery, “Hello,” by CBD Program Coordinator Ryan McLaughlin. Today, however, she’s sitting across from me saying, “Ya yite, man?”
“What?” I say, befuddled.
“Yaaa yiiite, man,” she says, drawing the words out, trying to help me understand.
I shake my head, “What does that mean?”
“Are you all right, man? It’s in a Geordie accent.”
McLaughlin, no stranger to the UK, is in the process of regaling me with her favorite phrases gathered from her extensive time spent abroad. How she managed to find herself deciphering Geordie dialect (found in Newcastle, Northern England), though, is a more complex story.
Though she’s a new addition to the Hampshire community, the college and surrounding area are far from unfamiliar to McLaughlin. As a former Mount Holyoke student who majored in English, she admits during the first few semesters of her undergraduate career, all she wanted to do was transfer to Hampshire. Her parents, however, had reservations about their daughter’s desire. With the possibility of transferring appearing unlikely, McLaughlin decided to go abroad during her sophomore year. Her plan was to attend the University of York in the United Kingdom for six months. However, in a very Hampshire-esque way, McLaughlin’s six months turned into something a little more. Five years later, McLaughlin left the UK with a degree in English and French literature and a Masters in modern literature and culture with an emphasis on feminism in contemporary Irish poetics.
McLaughlin credits the academic system at the University of York for providing the intellectual freedom she’d always longed for and giving her the tools to become a better thinker. York’s academic structure, though fairly traditional, mirrors Hampshire’s in some ways. For example, students of the English Department are required to design their own research titles and encouraged to incorporate perspectives from multiple disciplines into their work.
While in the UK, McLaughlin worked in the food service industry, backpacked through numerous countries, hiked, and met people she still stays in contact with today. One chance weekend (that turned into six weeks) spent on the west coast of Ireland presented McLaughlin, who spent her teenage years riding and training horses, with the opportunity to work on a horse farm. Reluctantly, she declined, but credits her unexpected six week excursion with piquing her interest in the areas of study her Masters’ thesis would eventually focused on.
Ten years after her initial attraction to the institution, McLaughlin finds herself back at Hampshire in a position that allows her to draw on all the skills offered by her own, self-made, untraditional education. She applied for her current position as CBD Coordinator thinking to herself that it was something she would have wanted to try during her undergraduate career. McLaughlin, always stepping outside of her comfort zone, has come full circle in her relationship with Hampshire, stating, “I like being here, rather than wishing I had been here.”
It seems safe to say that it’s not the institution that makes the student, but rather the student that drives the learning experience. Because of that, it’s obvious that McLaughlin has, and always will, live by Non Satis Non Scire, to know is not enough. Currently, McLaughlin (who, as a side note, is a self proclaimed “anglophile-cinema nerd,” and makes incredible homemade bagels) lives on a horse farm with Lemon Twist, her own horse who she’s been riding since the age of eleven.
For more information about the University of York’s Postgraduate programs in English, McLaughlin recommends visiting: http://www.york.ac.uk/english/ Funding opportunities include US Federal loans in addition to scholarships offered through the University.