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Physics Major Values Integrity, Community

Ezra Smith ’15 grew up on a yoga ashram, an experience that gave him a distinct perspective on life. He didn't fully realize how much of an influence it had on him, however, until he arrived at Earlham.

“A yoga ashram is a retreat center where people come come, take classes, and do yoga and learn how to meditate,” Smith explains. “People being on the same page with community values is important to me.”

Being surrounded by people who do things because they’re good for them, rather than for external rewards, was also a positive experience.

“It was strange coming to college and seeing people pulling all-nighters for papers, because that’s not good for you,” Smith says. “Most students put homework before sleep, but I reverse that.”

Smith also reverses another focus. “When people are focused on grades, that content becomes less important than the grades. So I try to focus on learning instead of grades.”

During a semester off, Smith applied that insight while working at an outdoor learning program. “At the Colorado Mountain Club, I was successfully combining physics and outdoor education,” he says. “Schools would come to us and ask us to teach lessons that fit in with their curriculum.”

As a physics major, Smith saw that nobody at the club was teaching physics. “I taught the instructors a 1.0 version.”

Smith is majoring in physics because he likes to know how things work. But he also has a deep interest in outdoor education and is a Quaker, and he has found strong campus communities for both of them.

The outdoor education program has provided a great community for Smith. “Outdoor education is very applicable to any line of work,” he says.

Smith has applied to Earlham’s MAT program so he can teach physics to high school students, and hopes to incorporate outdoor education.

He has also found a Quaker community in Quaker Fellows, but he mentions that Earlham as a whole has served as a good Quaker community.

“I really enjoy the Quaker values and vibe here on campus, both in the classrooms and out of them, especially the emphasis on integrity because without it, everything kind of falls apart in your personal life, your academic life and your relationships,” he says. “The people who work here and the students really model that.”

Ezra Smith

Ezra Smith 2015

Hometown: Honesdale, Pa.

Major at Earlham: physics

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