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By Taliesin Nyala 07F
When he was shopping around for a college, Nathan Holiday 09F had a list of interests he wanted to pursue: math, physics, religion, philosophy, and art. He says it wasn't until he got to Hampshire that the students actually paid attention to his full list—instead of cutting him off somewhere near the middle—and engaged him in conversation about it.
"They got really excited, and it was obvious that they were inspired by the work they were doing," he says. "I was drawn to Hampshire because it felt like a launching pad. What you want to do is ready for the taking and the people are really friendly."
In his first semester of college, Holiday is the lead teaching assistant (TA) for Professor of Physics Herb Bernstein's course, Quantum Mechanics for the Myriad. Professor Bernstein has high praise for Holiday's work both inside and outside of the classroom. "Nathan is bright and helpful in the classroom," says Bernstein, "but he really shines in the organization and execution of the post- and pre-class duties of a TA."
"As a TA, I feel like I'm learning the material on another level because you have to learn it and understand it to be able to help others," says Holiday about his role in correcting students' homework and organizing the other course TAs. He spends considerable time working with Bernstein outside of the class going over the material.
As a professor, Bernstein says that he has come "to treasure the few years—sometimes quite formative ones—when we at Hampshire have the privilege of helping [students] on their way. And in a few cases, of helping them to find physics and math as a worthy subject—eventually as a career."
"I think of it as—you put more in, you get more out'," Holiday says. "Being a TA has also made me feel more confident about approaching professors."
Holiday has been learning and practicing Aikido, a form of martial arts, since he was 11 years old. "It's an integrative practice that expresses itself in all aspects of life," he says, and part of what he's learned from it informs his attitude of getting the most out of his education: Holiday is already taking off-campus courses, studying Japanese, and doing an EPEC course in philosophy.
In his free time, he wakes up early on Saturday mornings to solve really hard math problems with a group of like-minded, math-enthused students.
His first-year tutorial in sculpture, Holiday says, has started him thinking about ways to integrate art into math and science. "What excites me about Hampshire," he says, "is the freedom of opportunity—there is so little holding you back from what you want to do here."