Morgan Randall (IH 2014 - 16)
Below is Morgan Randall's essay he wrote when he applied for residency in Fall 2015.
Math Major, Artist-in-residence
During my second semester at I-House, Joe Lurie invites me to lunch. We eat at a Mediterranean buffet not far down the hill. Joe shows me which dishes are his favorite, and says that he found out from Ryan that I'm a Lipscomb scholar. He asks if I know anything about Dr. Wendell Lipscomb, and I say no. He asks if he can tell me a little about Dr. Lipscomb, as he was a good friend of his who had now passed away. I agree, and Joe begins a conversation I wish I had had a year earlier.
As we eat, Joe explains that Dr. Wendell Lipscomb was a Black doctor who grew up in 1920's Oakland. He excelled in school and in his practice despite facing the prejudice of his community. As Joe then recounts Dr. Lipscomb's love of flight, I move on to dessert, spooning out some rice pudding. He tells me that Dr. Lipscomb was the first Black physician to work at Kaiser in Oakland. He was “nudged” out after they learned he was Black. “And what did he do when the hatred and prejudice of the world was too much for him?” Joe asks. “He took to the cockpit!” Those on the ground didn't often accept him, so Dr. Lipscomb took to the sky, soaring above all of it. Joe explains as he finishes his second glass of mint tea that Dr. Lipscomb wasn't just a good man, he was “a magnificent human being.” It's all very impressive. I wonder how a person could get to be like him. Joe pays the check, and we ride back to campus.
Dr. Lipscomb had many other talents, but didn't really brag. Joe tells me that he continues to learn new things about this man from his wife and friends. I go back to class, but I think about this conversation for quite a while. When I sit down for dinner, I start looking not just for friends to share a meal with, but for future Dr. Lipscombs: others who will work past prejudice for the greater good. I figure that Dr. Lipscomb was a hidden pearl, and seek out others like him.
I have a lot of good friends at I-House, so as the move out date approaches, I make them all farewell cards. I talk a lot with them at that time. Only when saying goodbye do I learn who these people I dine with everyday are. Like Dr. Lipscomb, most of them don't like to brag. Like pearls, they have character and talents hidden away from view. A few stand out in my mind now: a student from Belfast, Ireland who runs over one hundred miles a week to outrun the huge obstacles in his life, spending his free time philosophizing how to be a better person; a student from Singapore who researches medicines from across cultures to save others the pain she felt from losing her mom to cancer, smiling all the time to make everyone's day just a little bit easier; a student from Vietnam who is always trying to understand other people's viewpoints without judgment, to see the world from their eyes. I don't know until I sit down and really talk with residents just who they are and what wonderful things they've accomplished.
I had a great time at I-House last year. I raised funds for a Rwandan high-school with a law student, produced posters for an app for the Deaf with an I-House alum, and did voice overs for a commercial for some engineers. There are always fun projects at I-House to participate in. But I care much more about the relationships I had with the residents, these hidden pearls. I don't want to wait until move out time to learn about them this time. I want to savor their company, like the rice pudding at the buffet, letting all the flavors of our stay together melt in my mouth. I-House has people who are not just going to make a name for themselves, but are going to make the world a better place. I want to be a part of that again. And this time I'll have this new perspective Joe Lurie gave me.