From her days in high school, when she was the captain of her science olympiad team and learned how to play both the piano and flute, to when she came to Amherst as a Schupf scholar and eventually became editor-in-chief of The Amherst Student, Jingwen Zhang’s future has always been as bright as her smile. Her easy-going and sincere personality, along with her motivation and leadership, has made her years at Amherst unforgettable — both for her and everyone around her.

Hip hop tycoon Jay-Z said it best in his single release, “The Story of OJ”: “Financial freedom my only hope/F*** living rich and dying broke.” Cogently embodying the capitalist mantra of success, these lines conjure an image of power, freedom and legacy all converging towards one thing: wealth. Jay-Z’s song encapsulates a mutual understanding among Americans that the dollar sign is more symbolic of the American Dream than Lady Liberty herself.

One fine afternoon at Amherst (seldom found nowadays), I took a walk in the wildlife sanctuary. I was just heading out from lunch, and the idea of strolling around for a while suddenly struck me. I went through with this moment of inspiration, and I eventually ended up relaxing at a damp, wooden bench in the bird sanctuary, looking out into the frozen creek with long, calm breaths. Let me tell you about how I got there.

Sometimes, the thing that gets you out of bed isn’t the hearty aroma of coffee and breakfast food or the refreshing splash of sunlight in your face, but the dreadful realization of how much work you have. Our self-imposed pressure to stay productive keeps life moving at a bustling pace that’s well-suited to the mammoth expectations of an elite institution like Amherst.

Ever since I renounced Christianity in middle school, I was never interested in learning about other religions. But a year and a half into Amherst, with countless more books and writing assignments ahead, spiritual enlightenment sounded appetizing enough. I don’t plan on shaving my head and fasting anytime soon (my hair is a proud asset), but I have enrolled in the Buddhist Life Writing course here at Amherst to see what divine spirituality looks like, at least in theory. I quickly brought some of the theory down to the ground level, and began applying it in my own life.

It’s only been a month into 2018 and already we boast a new milestone in human ingenuity. After 79 attempts that spanned several weeks, Zhongzhong and Huahua, the first two monkey clones in the world, were born in the Institute of Neuroscience at Shanghai. Their names form “ZhongHua,” which means “the Chinese nation or people,” as homage to China’s leadership in primate research in recent years.

A tried and true method of mine for wiping the grogginess out of my mornings is to take a shower while putting on some bangers, or as I recently learned in Miami, “boppers.” In proper English, both mean an upbeat song that gets your body grooving. So, while I was casually dancing and rinsing my hair to “Bodak Yellow” one slow morning, I wondered what made that song so explosive and infectious that it seized the throne of Billboard’s Top 100 with lightning speed. How did Cardi B claim the title of empress of the music industry, the mother of all bangers?