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Physics major follows in his parents’ footsteps


Jon Oleson ’15 of Florida, Mass., had an easy decision when it came to college. He simply followed in his parents’ footsteps. His mother and father are not only alumni of the College, they also majored in physics – the major he selected, as well.

John OlesonFollowing the completion of their bachelor’s degrees in physics, both of Oleson’s parents earned teaching degrees. After a few years as a teacher, his father, Einar Oleson ’71, went on to work as the control room operator at the Yankee Atomic and the Bear Swamp Hydroelectric power plants. His mother, Judith Oleson ’72, taught at Mohawk Regional High School for 35 years.

Both are retired now.

Although the campus is a convenient 15-minute drive from his home, Oleson also selected MCLA because he already knew some of the professors. Remarkably, he is learning about physics from the same professor who taught his parents – Dr. Carl Wolf.

“It is interesting learning from Wolf. He has an understanding of physics that only comes from a lifetime of studying it,” Oleson said. “It is also interesting because Wolf is one of my parents’ close friends, and he is a good friend to me, as well, so it is very easy to get into a tangent conversation that has nothing to do with the topic on hand.”

In addition to being fun, physics describes why and how things happen in the world, he explained.

A member of the Society of Physics Students on campus, Oleson and the other students in this club presently are building a rover.

“These activities bring the physics students together more,” Oleson said. “Most of the time we just talk about technology and ideas, and laugh and joke at movies that do physically impossible stuff. We also hypothesize about sci-fi movies and what technology would be needed to make those movies actually happen.”

Oleson commutes to MCLA. When he’s not in class, he often can be found in the physics lounge or in a lab, working on his homework or a project.

Life as an MCLA student has been good, he said.

“I enjoy the small class sizes and the relaxed atmosphere of the school,” he explained. “I have learned a lot, education-wise, made great friends, and learned many new and great ideas.”

While he’s not certain where he will take his degree, Oleson plans to work for at least a few years after he graduates this spring. He is considering graduate school in a few years.

What’s his advice for success in physics?

“The tip to do well is the same for all courses,” Oleson said. “Read the book beforehand, write everything down, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.”

He recommends MCLA because, “It gives you a well-rounded education and sets you up to go where you want to in almost any field of study.”

“It is in a great location. You get to see all of the seasons. It is not in a big city, but is close enough to travel to multiple cities if you want to,” Oleson continued.

“It also gives you a chance to test all of the fields of study if you do not know what you want to do. Finally, MCLA is not an expensive college/university, so it is possible to graduate without as large a debt as other high-prestige places.”