Salute to seniors Class of 2020: Meet the MIT bilinguals

MIT SHASS
Thursday, May 28, 2020

35 of the many outstanding MIT 2020 students who have focused on both humanistic and scientific/technical fields reflect on their MIT education — and their visions for the future.

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"Dual competence is a good model for undergraduates at MIT: master two fundamental ways of thinking about the world, one technical and one humanistic or social. Sometimes these two modes will be at odds with each other, which raises critical questions. Other times they will be synergistic and energizing." — Professor David Mindell, Historian, Engineer, Co-founder and CEO of Humatics Corporation


Hannah Michaye Ledford
Major
: Writing
Minor: Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences
Vision: To care for others with empathy and insight

“Studying writing and humanities at MIT has helped me to become a more empathetic person.”

What have you most enjoyed about studying writing?

I think studying writing and humanities at MIT has helped me to become a more empathetic person. In particular, as a writer, workshopping and critiques are an important part of being in a community and helping other writers. I was not a kind “critique-r” in my first writing class, 21W.755 Writing and Reading Short Stories. Over time, however, I've learned to be kinder and more intentional with critiquing not just writing, but other actions, projects, and my own life.

How does the knowledge from this field, or your interest in it, combine with your other major or minor studies at MIT? 

My studies in other fields at MIT, particularly in planetary sciences, have helped me gain a new perspective and new information to incorporate into my writing; likewise, my writing has helped me in planetary sciences by making me a better teammate and by giving me new communication skills for papers and presentations.

An MIT education includes study in the technical, humanistic, and scientific fields. How do you think that range of knowledge will be valuable for your career — and life? 

The scientific and technical aspects of my life have taught me better critical thinking and given me practical skills I didn't have access to before my time here at MIT. But, my humanities work at MIT has broadened my horizons, giving me new definitions of normal, of community, of care, and of humanity.

What are your plans for the future?

I plan to be happy, to take care of myself and my cat, and to take care of those around me. Plus, I want to adopt another cat.

Story Image: MIT Commencement 2019 (Photo: Jake Belcher)