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Homecoming

Daniel Halpren-Ruder

Dan Halpren-Ruder

Two stories are emblematic of my LFC days.  The first was my interview with Ms. De Merritt. I was on my way from Florida to Los Angeles and scheduled a 4-hour hole during a change planes @ O’Hare.  Getting from O’Hare to LFC took longer than I thought, and I walked into the admissions office with 2.5 hours left before the LA flight.  I sat there, appropriately diminutive for what must have been half an hour and then panicked: I spoke up.  Within minutes, Ms. De Merritt came out of her office and reassured me: she would drive me back to O’Hare and we would have all that time to visit.  I guess that the trip went well. I have no recollection of the conversation, perhaps because it was just that, not an interview.  That was absolutely the commitment to flexibility that I intrinsically knew would be the key to my success.  At the time, I was living with my sister who rescued me from my parents’ marriage, which was going down in flames.  My home was an armed camp. It should come as no surprise that I was not doing well in high school.  At the time of the interview (conversation), I had only three pretty good report cards from the new high school and not much above average SAT’s to make the case.  This mobile admission conversation stands as symbolic of an institution geared to handle the unusual as though it was not.  Thank you, Ms. De Merritt

The second story took place within the last few months of my senior year.  I was taking Dr. John Coutts’ Physical Chemistry course.  “PCHEM” had the reputation it deserved.  “Hard” was – and probably still is – an insufficient descriptor.  After a month or so of it, I was convinced that there was little chance of passing it and being able to graduate on time.  My “at war” parents were now separated by 3,000 miles.  Both had become parental and human.  Given my history, they were incredulous that I was actually going to graduate college.  They were both coming to the graduation.  The only thing that stood between me and this first meeting of my parents after divorce was PCHEM.  I distinctly recall standing in the woods behind the science building trying to think my way out of this and it came quickly to me that all I had to do was talk to Dr Coutts.  Later that afternoon, I was in his office with an audacious plan: “Let me graduate and if it takes five years, I will pass your course.”  He did not hesitate:“OK”  I got a B on my first shot at the final and for PCHEM as well.  So I didn’t have to stay – although I would have loved to!  Thank you, Dr Coutts.