When Are We Free? A Conversation With Susan Burns


This month we spoke with Susan Burns, Vice President of Academic Affairs at Clarke University.

Q: When in your life have you not been free?

A: As I ponder the question, I am reminded of the many ways I may take my freedom for granted. Indeed the only example of not being free that comes immediately to mind is connected to a choice I made, and would make again – to be a parent. Becoming a parent means sacrificing your own freedom for the sake of your children. Especially when my children were young, I did not have the freedom to do or say whatever I pleased, or go wherever I desired. Instead, my words and actions were limited, to some extent, by parenthood. 


Q: When have you become free? How did it happen?

I have become free(er) as my children have grown. Certainly, as a parent, you are never completely free – free of worry about their health and safety, free of the responsibility for their upbringing, free from financial responsibilities associated with being a parent; however, in many ways, I have become freer in action and conversation with them as they have aged. As their aging has given me some freedom, they too experience new freedoms as well. I can more freely converse with them about a range of topics, and help prepare them for their own freedom as they move toward adulthood.


Q: If you drew a picture of freedom, what would it look like?

The picture I would draw of freedom is related to an experience I had with my family last summer. We traveled to Virginia Beach, VA, and I experienced and witnessed true freedom. My picture is of me standing on the beach with my husband without the worries of everyday life, watching my kids run into the waves, smiling, laughing, and full of unrestricted joy.