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Northwestern University

Making It Matter: What Does It Mean to Live a Life of Significance?

The questions often pose themselves at watershed moments: at a college reunion, on a milestone birthday, at the passing of a friend. Or they arise unbidden, while you are commuting to work or waiting for sleep to arrive: What am I doing with my life? Does it matter? Read full introduction

In the interviews linked below, you will meet a number of Weinberg College community members who have sought to answer the query: “What does it mean to live a life of significance?” Their answers are as varied as the paths they have chosen. But all have drawn on the College’s traditions of inquiry, research and reflection to fashion a life that each finds abundantly worth living.

Darlene Clark HineDarlene Clark Hine

"The goal is to become a transformative agent in the struggle against social inequalities, ignorance and exploitation."

Joan King SalwenJoan King Salwen '82

"In my work, I devote myself to girls and young women, supporting them as they explore and develop their curiosity, tenacity and resilience."

Robert KettRobert Kett '09

"What I really enjoy about the work I do, and academic work in general, is that it helps us rethink everyday life."

Sarah Suh '14

"As students, we’re always thinking about the future — about midterms and finals coming up, or internships and jobs that we need to apply for. I started to wonder, what am I going to do when I finally get to that future?"

Professor Mark Ratner

"Applying science to help the world deal with sustainability is rewarding at a deep, emotional level."


"I come from a background that was disadvantaged, and Northwestern created opportunities that changed my life."

Chelsea Brown '02

"People write to say that you’ve made a positive impact at a very ­negative point in their lives. I save all those notes."

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