EPH Origins: How we Started

“You’re doing what?”
When I first started EPH, the idea was met with surprise, excitement, and a splash of skepticism. The many reactions encouraged me to reflect on why EPH was important–what we could truly bring to the table. The answer came when I thought about my educational journey, both the experiences that sparked joy and the ones that daunted.

Like many young students, I was told that there were two camps of learners: humanities kids and STEM kids. I heard from (well-intentioned) peers and teachers that I was in the first group, and my brain simply was not wired to succeed in the sciences. Though I loved arts and humanities, something was missing. I felt a sense of unrest, an itch to wander into STEM disciplines, but I didn’t believe that I could. My brain was wired differently from many of my STEM-intensive peers; I didn’t seem to understand or learn material in the same ways. Science multiple choice exams and math speed drills were the enemy; I got hung up on nuance and wording in questions intended to be black and white.  I was sluggish in math, and memorizing chemistry or physics formulas was like trying to swim in molasses. Textbook explanations were often dry and dense, and I regularly found myself combing the internet for additional help. I often joked that I was “not STEM-atically inclined,” but when I did take classes in the discipline, I felt a spark of excitement steeped in curiosity. I loved understanding the way the world around me worked, unfurling each layer like a new adventure. I thrived on finding the connections between subjects, and I was exhilarated by identifying the applications of class material. Fortunately, I was privileged enough to have a few teachers and professors along the way that told me to stick with it; they are the reason I kept trying. Those teachers saw a spark of something that I couldn’t quite see, and their encouragement allowed me to realize how my interests in STEM could maybe even compliment my love of humanities.

But still, I felt like an impostor. I needed to invent unorthodox study methods just to keep up. To learn the order of operations, for example, I created a short story about the relationships between the different mathematical steps, with each symbol a character with its own personality. I doodled comics about meiosis and mitosis, and I drafted Newton’s Laws of Motion as riddles and tongue twisters. It was through these quirky tricks that I trekked through my STEM requirements in middle and high school, wishing that I, too, could have a mind that worked like the “real” STEM kids. 

It wasn’t until college that I realized that I didn’t have to abandon my humanities background to explore STEM; being a “humanities kid” allowed me to view other disciplines through a unique lens. I have always been fascinated by language and storytelling because it is a core aspect of how we build and understand our identities, both as individuals and communities. The truth is, our lives, memories, and aspirations are all fueled by stories, and I wanted to figure out how to harness that power. The way that language is wielded differs greatly between humanities and science, and in many ways, two different academic cultures have developed between the disciplines. In college, I realized that I could not only pursue both humanities and the sciences, but they were actually connected in a myriad of ways.

EPH is born of that space, appreciating the collaboration of disciplines to create something magical.

The intersection of disciplines is the most exciting place to be, and that marriage of seemingly opposite ideas is what truly started EPH. The works that EPH produces are designed with students in mind, particularly those who have felt excluded from academic environments because their style of processing or learning did not align with a single-discipline approach.

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