The Value: What our graduates say ...

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... about the Great Books Program.

“From a practical standpoint, the Great Books Program taught me how to structure, write, discuss and defend a rational argument and introduced me to the foundational thinking and art of our society. It taught me how to think and interpret for myself and how to engage others productively to refine my understanding of complex concepts. Some of my most valued friendships to those who would not normally come into my world evolved in Great Books; it allowed us to see into each other and relate in a way we never would have without the discussion format.” Todd Cooper ('93 BA in English Literature)

“Great Books brought me out of childhood shyness to engage with texts, ideas, and my classmates. I learned to challenge others’ opinions politely but directly in a way that has since served me in workplace team projects, to read without intimidation (even Kant!), and have found, huddled over a round table arguing about Dostoevsky, a community of friends and scholars I hope to keep for life.” Katherine Grimm Bowers ('08 BA in English Literature)

"In the spring of 1986 as a freshman, I took my first Great Books class: Among Gods and Heroes. At the beginning, the entire concept of the Great Books Program was completely uncomfortable and foreign to me. Being a pre-medical student, it was far easier to sit in a didactic lecture and solve mathematical equations than to discuss openly The Iliad without a rigid syllabus. However, displacing ourselves into unfamiliar territory is for me the central theme of not only the Great Books Program but of scientific progress as well. By challenging conventional thinking and being open to unknown and sometimes outlandish thinking, we push ourselves out of comfort zones, become off balance, but gain new insight. In the end, the Great Books Program was the perfect complement to my scientific education at Mercer." Aravind Arepally ('89 BA in Mathematics)

“More than any other academic experience at Mercer University, the Great Books Program has shaped my vocation and outlook on life. The curriculum challenged me to think in new and interesting ways and provided me with a skill-set that goes beyond mere memorization of people and events.” Matt Wetherington ('07 BS in Political Science)

"Great books has been one of the most valuable experiences in my life. It provided me with the opportunity to read some of the greatest books ever written, as well as to explore the way that other peoples' experiences intersected with the important lessons of whatever book we were reading. My time in Great Books has given me the confidence needed to negotiate important deals and to handle and deflect rejections in my role as a Sales Representative for ... Michelin Tire Company in Florida and the Caribbean." Robb Smedema ('06 BA in Spanish)

"I have found that my Great Books education has made me a better person in more ways than I can count. These courses taught me one of the most important lessons of my life: how to question. So much of my work revolves around questioning: questioning decisions, questioning values, questioning professional practice, questioning students. I have found that Great Books honed my critical thinking skills as well as my ability to hear an issue or question and develop a well thought out response. Great Books also improved my writing ability, and I found that I was totally prepared for the level and type of writing required for graduate school. Many of the other students in my graduate cohort had not had the heavy writing load in their college experiences and had not been tasked with offering critical analysis of an author’s work. Many struggled with graduate school for that reason, yet I found the work energizing and interesting." James Hunt ('06 BA in Political Science)


Since Todd graduated from Mercer with a BA in English Literature he has (1) become a husband, (2) fathered two boys, (3) received a Master of Fine Arts degree from Emerson College in creative writing, (4) briefly taught at the college level and worked as a barista, (5) helped grow a business from small (10 employees) to large (150 employees at time of sale), (6) conceived and designed software used by OCC, OTS, and FDIC when examining financial institutions for consumer protection compliance, (7) advised the federal government on the impact of census changes to the regulatory obligations of lenders, (8) trekked in the Himalayas (and saw the sun rise over Mt. Everest), (9) won two national sailing championships, (10) became a reasonably good cook, and (11) is currently working as Vice President/General Manager of an anti-money laundering/anti-fraud business for Wolters Kluwer (an “accidental” career, but fascinating, challenging and rewarding).

Since graduating from Mercer with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Photography, Katherine has worked as a textbook editorial assistant for Elsevier and as a receptionist/assistant at the Florida State University Interlibrary Loan department. She and her husband are saving for a six-month service trip to Uganda, after which she’ll be applying to English PhD programs during the summer.

Since graduating from Mercer with a BA degree in Mathematics, Aravind attended and graduated from Emory University School of Medicine in 1993. He received diagnostic radiology training at Emory University Hospital. He continued his training at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutes where he was a fellow in Cardiovascular and Interventional Radiology. Upon completion of his training, Aravind joined the faculty. He was recently promoted to Associate Professor of Radiology and Surgery. Aravind and his family will soon move to Atlanta to join the physician staff at Piedmont Hospital. His area of research is in the development of cellular therapy for diabetes, and he continues to work with the Institute of Cellular Engineering and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University as an Adjunct Associate Professor of Radiology.

During Matt’s time at Mercer, or after he graduated with a BS in Political Science, he (1) worked for U.S. Congressman Jim Marshall in Washington, DC, and in Macon, GA, (2) helped to establish the College Hill Corridor Commission in Macon, (3) toured the country in a big green RV interviewing celebrities, musicians, and career and community leaders about vocation for the PBS documentary series Roadtrip Nation (the 12-part series will air in the fall of 2008) and (4) enrolled in the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University.


To contact us: Dr. Kathryn Kloepper, Director
Great Books Program ׀ Mercer University
1400 Coleman Avenue ׀ Macon, Georgia, 31207
(478) 301-5308 or (800) MERCER-U