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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

Will Radke

Associate, Goldman Sachs Realty Japan, Ltd.
Austin College (TX), Class of 2008
Will Radke resides and works in Tokyo, Japan. He has been an associate at Goldman Sachs Realty Japan, Ltd. and an analyst at Goldman Sachs Realty Asia Pacific in Singapore.
 
Radke graduated summa cum laude from Austin College in 2008. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
I’ve lived most of my 20s in Asia. One of the paradoxes of living abroad for prolonged periods outside of your culture is that only then do you begin to appreciate any perspective on what our society believes. In an Asian sense of it, one cannot fully appreciate joy without knowing the feeling of sorrow. I look at liberal arts in the same vein, one cannot fully appreciate the human condition without equipping yourself with a liberal education.

The tradition of cultural exploration is not new, as I’m only a novice in a long line of cultural observers from Ibn Battuta to Alexis de Tocqueville. What is different from Ibn Battuta and de Tocqueville’s time is the speed at which information is disseminated, be it through travel, the internet, or television. With society’s ephemeral focus, the ability to articulate thoughts, think critically, and write are becoming lost arts. I’ve witnessed this time and again in both my collegiate and nascent professional career. Much as our knowledge continues to fuel the specialization of industries and careers, the ability to adapt and pivot will define those who can retool their generalized knowledge and skills.

...one cannot fully appreciate the human condition without equipping yourself with a liberal education.

One of the most profound concepts about knowledge that I learned at Austin College was that of generalizations. We learn generalizations and then why those generalizations are not always correct. Broadly, this pedagogy is applicable to all three of the core pillars of a liberal arts education: the sciences, humanities, and social sciences. This simple construct has served me in both my personal and professional life.

This intersection of disciplines collided on March 11, 2011, as I was in Tokyo during Great East Japan Earthquake. Little did I know at the time, but a new word would enter the global lexicon: Fukushima. The fight to control radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant will not be just another bookmark in the annuals of history for me. For weeks after, this nation was mesmerized by the struggle to contain the fallout and impact on our daily life. In the months following, Tokyo was (and remains) a transformed city. Famed for its energy, it felt as if it was partaking in a national reflection. Energy conservation efforts were the most cosmetic symbols, a microcosm of my emotions. I remain unsure of striking the appropriate balance between compassion for the victims while becoming re-consumed with life prior to March 11. My ultimate decision not to leave was one of the most challenging I’ve ever had to make, balancing compassion for my fellow man, science, and emotions.

Much as joy and sorrow are not bound by language or culture, it is the spectrum of emotions—and education—that gives me the perspective on life.
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