Hoping A Generation Will Find Solutions To Complex Problems
By Sarah Campbell
Glen Burwell, in his second year at Marymount Manhattan College, was born in New York, but raised in Virginia Beach. He returned to Manhattan last fall after being accepted at MMC, and for a young man of 19, Burwell has a long list of academic and extra-curricular achievements. After spending an afternoon with him, it’s clear that Burwell is a young man of brilliance, intelligence, and charm with classic values and modern views. Speaking on topics from politics, to pop culture, Burwell proves that his two-cents should be heard.
Burwell arrives at the Starbucks at 80th and York at 5:58 pm, two minutes before our interview is scheduled to begin. For some reason I’m there early and am glad that I didn’t miss his entrance. Burwell is dressed in a sophisticated, yet carefree style, which seems to come off as more polished in comparison to the normal college kid look. His jacket is a hooded navy pea-coat with silver buttons, two of which seem to have gone missing, yet don’t detract from the chic look of the silhouette which lies somewhere in between slightly fitted and roomy. He’s wearing slim (not skinny) dark blue jeans with shoes. To top it off, he wears a gray hat that’s slightly tilted on his head. He enters the Starbucks and sees me almost immediately, not needing to pause for even a moment until he reaches the table.
Burwell looks as though he’s been walking a bit and when I hear his hello, it is clear that he’s a bit out of breath. He has a large rectangular bag slung diagonally over his shoulder in which it seems a person could fit an entire wardrobe, or maybe even a small Manhattan studio apartment. He lugs it off his shoulders with a sigh and says, “Let me just get a coffee before we start,” which sounds more like one long word as he speaks rather quickly and is still a little out of breath.
When he returns with a grande café Americano, he seems more settled. Burwell hovers over the cup, the cap of which he has removed and blows over the drink, steam rising, as his eyes glance at the coffee, up at me, and then back down again. He asks, “So, how do we do this? How do we begin?” After minor mindless chitchat, we seep into the interview.
What was it that led you to choose MMC?
“New York definitely I’d love to say it was the school, but honestly the bottom line was I wanted to be here.
Do you have a particular field of interest? A major?
“That’s a tricky question,” (he says with a giggle).
Why is that a tricky question?
“Well because it depends on which day and at what time you ask it – it’s different. I originally planned to be a lawyer. My entire high school career was geared towards that. (Burwell studied at The Legal Academy). I’m also really into graphic design, photography. My major that’s easy – it’s communications. Really, I’d just love to be editor at a high style magazine – somewhere at the top of the creative process. I also really love journalism. The truth is really important and the news today is obviously so messed up and people, everyone, myself included, seems so uninformed and that’s unfortunate.”
So I’m guessing you’re not up to date on your US Weekly?(Chuckles). “Most certainly am not. I’m not saying I don’t get the appeal, obviously it is easier to focus on what happened in Hollywood then what’s going on around the world or even right next door. It’s lighter, much easier to deal with and I totally understand the need to not want to deal with thing. But in the end of the day it’s just waste, unnecessary.”
So what do you think our generation should do in order to redirect our attention?
“Well, recently I’ve been asking more questions. Not necessarily what’s right or wrong, but more why? Why are we focusing on this over that? Why would us being distracted be beneficial to certain people or groups of people? You know there are a lot of things that are not right that our generation seems to take as just being a given and I think the only way to really change things is to understand not only what’s going on but also why it’s happening and only then can we find a solution.”
While we’re talking about change, what are your feelings for the 2008 presidential race?
“You know for the first time I’m really doing my research. I’m getting really into it and obviously, this election is absolutely crucial for the future of America. I could talk for hours about who I think and why but we don’t have that time, plus I’m still looking at who’s saying what. The scariest thing is what if neither option ends up being someone you can agree with.”
Do you see that there is any sort of consensus among people, especially among your generation?
“You know I do, but at the same time you’re talking to me and I’m pretty sure you and I are on the same page, but we are also two people in New York City. I think as a whole our generation is more open, accepting, things I obviously consider positive. But then you know we could also focus on how lazy we all seem to be. I guess all I hope is that we get out of this mess with as much dignity and grace as possible. Most people, it seems, are ready for a change and I guess I’m just like everyone else who hopes the rest vote in a way that will make this the kind of place I’d like to be in and to be proud to call home.”