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The next student was a young man, a bit smaller than the others. He had straight, brown hair, and he looked fairly serious.
"My name is Jimmy," he said, then he corrected himself. "James. I wanted to ask what you think about college, ma'am. My teachers say I'm ready to go, but there aren't any colleges around here. Did you go to college?"
She smiled. "Before I answer that, James, let me ask you a question. Do you not want to go to college? Do you not want to travel?"
He shrugged. "Well, my parents are always saying how much better it is here in U-town. What if I go somewhere else and I don't like it?"
She laughed. "Well, I think it is a pretty great place to live, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't travel. U-town is very small, and the world is very large. I like it here, but I've been to a lot of places, so I have a basis for comparison. Are you going to marry the first person who asks you out on a date?
"Besides, U-town can't survive on what people can learn here. For example, we need doctors, obviously, and it will be years before we can even think about starting a medical school here. I read an article recently, not written by me, which said that, if your ailment is fairly common, you'll receive better care in U-town than anywhere else in the world, but if your ailment is uncommon, or complex, or difficult to diagnose, you'll get sent somewhere else. We can be proud of the former, but we have to be working on the latter. There are doctors in the city who come to our hospital one day a week, and some of them refer certain patients to us, but we need more full-time staff, doctors who are always here, and who are doing research, not just treating patients. As Ray said to me recently, we can send you to some great therapists, but that doesn't help if you need surgery."
"Thanks," he said, "That makes sense. But did you go to college?"
"Yes, I did," she said, "but I didn't graduate. When I got to college, I just went through the catalog and marked all the classes I thought would help me solve mysteries. And I took all the journalism classes, too, of course."
"What was your major?"
She shrugged. "I didn't have one. I had no interest in getting a degree, I just wanted an education. When I'd taken all the courses I needed, I left."
"You dropped out?"
"Oh, I don't think of it as dropping out. Dropping out implies quitting in the middle of something. I just followed through on the plan I'd laid out when I was in high school. So, I left college, I found Marshall and hired him, and I was ready to go."
She held up a hand.
"I don't recommend doing that, by the way, though it has worked fairly well for me. But now, when I've taken on some responsibilities in the government, I do wish I'd take some other courses. Economics, for example. I did take languages, since all of the classic detectives were polylingual, and that's been helpful in diplomatic work, but I wish I'd taken a much wider range of courses when I was there."
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