Jennifer Larson, Greek and Latin (Class of 2004)

Jennifer Larson graduated Phi Beta Kappa from UIC in 2004 with a double major in ancient Greek and Latin, taking her degree with distinction. She was the recipient of the Donald and Leah Riddle Prize, which is presented annually to the outstanding graduating senior. She studied law at the University of Chicago, where she was an editor of the Law Review, receiving her LLD in 2008. She is presently employed by the Wall Street law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where she specializes in bankruptcy and securities litigation.

She says, “I have never regretted my decision to major in Classics. Law school professors failed to intimidate me—after all, what's more daunting than translating one-on-one with a professor who can read an ancient Greek or Latin text without a dictionary? Not only is Classics both an uncommon and highly regarded degree in general, but it demonstrates that a student has a strong work ethic and is committed to perfectionism. Classics is a highly favored major and that I was admitted to Chicago in large part because of my degree in Latin and Greek. My undergraduate degree was also a major factor in landing the job at my present firm. My undergraduate degree in Greek and Latin led to acceptances from the law schools at the universities of Chicago, Michigan, and a few others.

The main and lasting benefits of a degree in Classics, especially in language & literature, besides the pleasure of the studies themselves, are a more sophisticated world view, a rigorously analytical mindset, proof of an adventuresome intellect, a trained and purposeful perfectionism, and a flexible writing style. Training in reading texts closely provides practice in analysis within rigid constraints and yet without a single "right" answer to find. Thus studying classical authors prepares the mind to be both disciplined and creative. My Classics professors were, without exception, better and more demanding writing teachers than any English professor I encountered. I'll never forget Professor Dickie telling me that "things" are "what one sends to the laundry," or Professor MacGregor telling me that if I could not translate my sentence into Latin, I was probably writing in abstractions. All the technical terms and advanced writing techniques I know, I learned in my Classics courses: synecdoche and asyndeton, anaphora and chiasmus. All have become tools I no longer use by inadvertence but with deliberation and an appreciation for their effectiveness.”