On Choosing Intellectual Freedom

Bjorn Ramleth '12 attended four different high schools from California to Virginia, then back to California, partly because of his father's work. There were times when he felt like a square peg pounded into a round hole because he did not fit the particular thinking a school promoted. Bjorn steadily lost interest in learning, although he was certainly a curious individual whose family encouraged intellectual discussion. Bjorn admires his father Geir '87 for his wisdom. As a student at San Jose State University, majoring in engineering, Bjorn discovered that he resisted the narrow-gauge track he was on, with an extremely technological focus of coursework.

In his sophomore year, he read The Virtue of Selfishness (1961) a collection of essays by Ayn Rand which presents the argument for objectivist ethics. Rand maintains, “Ethics is not a mystic fantasy—nor a social convention—nor a dispensable, subjective luxury…Ethics is an objective necessity of man's survival.” Thus, he was drawn to Rand and other philosophers, as he continued his search to find a personal morality that was his own.

Bjorn needed a place where he could think freely, communicate and exchange ideas in an open academic setting, so he transferred to Menlo College a year ago. The move was a catalyst for change in Bjorn's life that included switching his intended major from engineering to business. Taking a class from Dr. Craig Medlen awakened his interest in global economics. Bjorn says that sometimes “the human element,” produces inexplicable results when comparing a logical graph with historical evidence. His literature allows him to express thoughts that weren't particularly solicited in the past. He has begun to enjoy learning and looks forward to going to class.

He wants to succeed while being his own person. “Faculty and teachers at Menlo treat me with respect,” he says. “If I throw out an idea, they will discuss its premises; they will not just dismiss the idea. Teachers provide straightforward answers, never diverging from the path of their own reasoning but giving my comments due consideration. They might point out faults in thinking and bring the logic back to their view, while still valuing my opinion. It's an open forum in every class.”