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‘The question I probably get asked most often by students is: How did you achieve what you did? There is an urgency to the question and more than a little self-interest. If I can figure out how he made it, the student reasons, then maybe I will know how to chart my own path. It has always been difficult to provide a simple answer for a long and complex journey, so I often leave the inquiring student with a pointer here or a caution there. Never enough to really account for the full breadth of lessons I’ve taken from life…’ Jonathan Jansen doesn’t regard the achievements he has made in academia and his contributions to public intellectual life as his own – rather, he sees these accomplishments as a product of the hard work and sacrifices of family, friends, teachers, colleagues, and mentors around him. Jansen recounts, in his indomitable way, how the people in his life invested love, direction, encouragement (and even money) to make his journey possible – in the hope that his story may give inspiration and direction to generations of young people taking their first steps in adult life.

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