(Illustration and photography by Tom Tian, AB’10; embroidery by Joy Olivia Miller)

Not without merit

You need these stinking badges.

As University of Chicago alumni we all have tokens to show off (or at least remind ourselves of) our signal accomplishments: An admission letter filed neatly away in a drawer, a framed degree on the wall. That Nobel medal hanging in the garageor did I leave it in the mud room? The “MacArthur Foundation—$625,000” entry on your latest direct deposit statement. That “World’s Smartest Mom [or Dad]” mug in the cupboard. But what about those smaller daily triumphs that also made us true UChicagoans? How can we commemorate those? And then it hit us: merit badges.

We present a few possibilities here, including “Really Seen Around Campus” above in its full embroidered glory. Which ones will you be stitching onto your maroon sash?

Doc or die

Anyone can make Doc Films their weekend mainstay (once upon a time, second- , third- , and eighth-run box office hits were the lifeblood of Friday and Saturday nights in Hyde Park). The hard-core cineastes, however, are at Ida on Tuesday nights for all 10 weeks of “One Singular Manaschi: History of the Kyrgyz Musical.”

Expert in the field

A neophyte birder can tell a semipalmated plover from a northern lapwing. But the real test of observational acumen happens at the Reg. Is the guy at the corner table in Ex Libris majoring in Comp lit? Linguistics? Or—could it be?—Slavic languages! Bonus points if you can correctly identify a grad student’s dissertation topic.

Winter orienteer

Where did January find you? Risking frostbite walking across the quad under five layers of clothing? Or making your leisurely way from class in Pick Hall to the Cobb Coffee Shop and then back to Harper for a study session—up staircases, down hallways, through doors, across the Fulton Recital Hall balcony gingerly (hoping a concert isn’t going on)—all while barely setting a slippered foot in the snow?

Really seen around campus

Thanks to the return of the Lascivious Costume Ball and the growing popularity of Kuviasungnerk’s Polar Bear Run, opportunities to “Go Rousseau” are now as plentiful at UChicago as books, coffee, and angst. If you’ve earned this badge, the only question is where you’ll put it.

Two-year ranger

Most students enter the College thinking they’ll polish off their Core requirements in those first two years. But stuff—a once-in-a-lifetime class, romance, writing for the Maroon, a start-up that really starts up, another once-in-a-lifetime class, a long weekend in Madison—happens. Here’s to the hardy souls who plow through anyway, so they can spend two full years changing their mind about their bachelor’s project.

Hyde Park 4 life

Many of us manage to stop at just one or two UChicago degrees, but once you hit three, there’s no reason to slow down. Already have your PhD? Why not add an MBA, or maybe a second doctorate? The Institute for Molecular Engineering has a brand new program ...