Macedonian Student Goes Through Yale By Running A Trolley Car
( Originally Published 1902 )
AT Yale University some little time ago, the degree of Master of Arts was conferred upon Constantine Demeter Stephanove, a native of Bausko, Macedonia. The remarkable manner in which he supported himself during the seven years of his student life at Yale is described by him in an interview which is as follows :
" The hardest work I have done was not in college. I left my home when I was sixteen. My mother did not wish me to come, but I was fired with an ambition to help my native land, and I saw that education was the first necessity of my people.
" I came to this country and went up into Canterbury, Connecticut, where I secured work on a farm. There I saw some of the hardest work I have ever done. I milked ten cows night and morning, and was busy from the time I arose at daylight until dusk.
" Here I learned the language, and then I went to the preparatory school at Monson, Massachusetts.
" I graduated from the Monson Academy in 1895, and came at once to Yale, where I began my studies. I waited on the table for a living during the first year or two, and later secured work on the trolley.
" I don't suppose half my classmates imagined I was a trolley conductor, unless they saw me, and many of the professors would be surprised to hear of it, I am sure. And I doubt very much if many of my trolley friends knew that I was in Yale until they read of it recently.
" On my graduation in 1899 I was still dissatisfied with my education and determined to keep on. Now that I have secured my degree and can speak the language fairly well, I intend to complete the work at a German University.
" You may think it strange, but I have found five hours a day sufficient for sleep.
" I have been on what is known as the ` owl ' car, which runs all night, after all the other cars have stopped. I had to go on duty at midnight and work until 7:30 in the morning. After my day at college I would Come home between 6 and 7 in the evening and allow nothing to interfere with my going to bed. Then I would sleep until nearly midnight, when I would get up, get my bite to eat and be off for the car. We usually made half a dozen trips at night, and I have seen all sorts of people.
" In the morning when I finished I would continue my studies, which I had partly completed the afternoon previous, and be ready for the classroom. I have given all my time to work and study ; my exercise and recreation I obtained on the trolley."
The struggles and victory of this young man remind us very much of the Macedonians of olden time, who arose with sublime heroism to subdue the people in letters and in morals.
Ile has been brave, not like his fellow-countrymen under Philip, to conquer men with swords of steel, but to wield over them the gentle sceptre of the degree at Yale. The great sea, a foreign land, new customs, a strange language and poverty, are barriers that would have kept a boy of average ability and average courage in a very narrow circle ; but this splendidly endowed young man counted them as nothing, and made them even tributary to his development and promotion. The most beautiful feature of his heroic conduct is the fact that his efforts have been to prepare himself for unselfish service for others; he has gone to all this trouble through these many years that he may be enabled to return to his native land qualified to teach his own people. There were so many difficulties between the Macedonian boy and truth and love.
It is the pride of American educational life that so many poor young men work their way through college, and the lessons of enterprise, industry, self-reliance and self-denial are about as valuable as those learned from books and professors, in the development of manhood. It is also a matter of congratulation that so many poor young men put themselves through college that they may devote themselves unselfishly to the interest of others.