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Antique books on a bookshelf

My SLE Story: Gianna Nino

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Antique books on a bookshelf


SLE - Structured Liberal Education: A residential program that takes place in East Florence Moore Hall worth 8 units. When I drove onto campus that was basically all I knew about SLE, that and that we read a lot of books. I hadn’t attended the information session during Admit Weekend and had very minimal information on what it really was. Had I known how intense it was going to be, or how time consuming it really was, I would have eased up on my unit count fall quarter. 

Still, SLE was one of the better decisions of my freshman year. I lived in a four-class dorm that was relaxed, quiet, and perfect for someone who really didn’t want to live in a social setting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The course was spectacular! We received different lecturers daily (except on Mondays and Fridays when there was no SLE) and you never knew what to expect with the different lecturers. Additionally, we didn’t have a traditional lecture hall, we had a lounge. This was great in its own way, because you could sit anywhere, on the floor, on the couch, etc. and it was comfortable. It felt more like a conversation with the lecturer about the work you were reading rather than you absorbing whatever they were saying. It also made it a lot easier to ask question because the whole lecturer-student dynamic was reduced to a conversation in a lounge. 

I learned more in this 30-week (3 ten-week quarters) period of my life than I had probably learned in the past 18 years of my life. We raced through Western thought - reading book after book, from Plato to Nietzsche and beyond. I loved reading, but this is definitely not your typical reading. This is critical analysis, and requires more time than you would expect. I found so many quotes within these books that will stick with me for life, but that was not the only thing I found. I also found myself within these books. Life happens outside of SLE, even when you spend about half of all of your class time there, and you’ll be dealing with your own personal problems. Yet, while you read these books, written by people a long time ago, you find solutions. You’ll find yourself in similar dilemmas as the thinkers in your reading and you’ll be entranced by the similarities between yourself and the characters, or thoughts. SLE is truly a beautiful process to go through. 

SLE challenges you to view new perspectives and ways of being, although it is time-consuming I think SLE does more for your humanity, than any other class at Stanford could possibly do (due to the time and breadth). I am really thankful to have done SLE because it was life-changing.

Gianna Nino

Human Biology with a concentration in youth development and education
Class of 2018

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