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Meliora Moments

Noah D. Pizmony-Levy Drezner ’00

Alumnus – Arts, Sciences and Engineering

Rochester was such a formative experience in my life that it is hard to settle on just one Meliora Moment.

Before going to Rochester, I was shy and had difficulty making friends. That all changed in a very short time period after arriving on campus. Ana Hubbard ’99 (Take-5 ’00), who passed away in 2008, was the first person that I met when moving on to the River Campus as a freshman. I moved in a day before the late August orientation and then Yellowjacket Days. Tiernan hall was empty besides the RA and the residence hall executive committee. On the ride up to Rochester, I told my father that I was nervous about what was to come in college; how would I make friends? I knew no one! I even asked my father to extend his stay in Rochester in the event that I wanted to return home.

Ana was decorating my hall when I began to unload the car. Within minutes she began to tell all about the wonderful things that were about to happen and how my decision to attend Rochester and move into Tiernan—the community service special interest housing—was a great decision. I never looked back and by the time my father picked me up in the morning to run errands—I not only felt much better, I had met one of my closest confidants. I told my father that he could go home without me. My confidence in being able to make it “on my own” was my first Meliora Moment—a truly transformative moment in my life.

I had many other moments of self-discovery, growth, and intellectual curiosity that in hindsight I would consider to be Meliora Moments; too many to share, some too personal, others too small or potentially insignificant. However, more recently I have had many small Meliora Moments that are not personal—but collective.

The doctrine of Meliorism was first written about by George Eliot in her 1871 novel "Middlemarch, A Study of Provincial Life"—not long after the founding of our alma mater and the adoption of Meliora as our motto. The doctrine puts forth “that the world can be made better through rightly directed human effort.” As such, my Meliora Moments are often times of pride when I learn about the ways in which—through human effort—the University of Rochester is fulfilling its motto and the doctrine of meliorism to make the world better.

These Meliora Moments occur often. For example, when I learned about the David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity creating pre-college through graduate educational pipeline programs for low-income, first-generation college, and underrepresented minority students—and them being so successful that their leader, Dean Beth Olivares, is being recognized for her contributions to the nation by the White House. This to me is a proud moment. To see how a Rochester experience can be transformative to those who society often does not give an equal chance to succeed is the essence of Meliora and the doctrine of meliorism.

I am proud to be a small part of that success and work to make the world ever better.