Photo: Caitlin Cunningham


Living with Purpose

In a new book, Lynch School Professor Belle Liang helps readers navigate school, work, and life. 

Belle Liang is familiar with defying expectations. The chair and professor of counseling, developmental, and educational psychology at BC’s Lynch School of Education and Human Development is the daughter of first-generation Chinese immigrants and spent two years in college studying hard sciences in an attempt to achieve her parents’ career aspirations for her. So when Liang pivoted to studying psychology, her family was shocked.

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“Trying to mold myself into someone’s stereotype of me left me exhausted and confused,” she wrote in her new book How to Navigate Life: The New Science of Finding Your Way in School, Career, and Beyond, “but as my understanding of who I am came into sharper focus during my later college and adult years, this understanding became my guide.” In the book, Liang and her coauthor, the clinical social worker Timothy Klein, share research-backed advice on how to live driven by purpose rather than by a fear of failure. Members of Gen Z prioritize purposeful living, Liang said, but they have not been taught how to be decisive in doing so.

To begin that process, the book lays out “The Five Purpose Principles,” a decision-making framework that encourages readers to commit to what the authors call a “purpose mindset” rather than a “performance mindset.” Young Americans, Liang said, have been socialized to tie their happiness to external validation, which research shows leads to heightened depression, anxiety, and directionlessness. The key, she said, is to find balance between pursuing ambitions and seeking happiness. To that end, How to Navigate Life includes advice for mentors on guiding young people toward their most fulfilled selves. It also explains how to apply “The Five Purpose Principles” to high school, the workplace, and beyond. “How do you identify what your purpose is, and how do you best go and pursue that?” she said. “That’s the how-to piece of purpose.” 


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by Marlena Fiol and Ed O’Connor ’65

The authors document the work of Dr. John and Clara Schmidt, Kansas Mennonites who relocated to South America in 1950 to open a leprosy clinic. Fiol and O’Connor drew from diary entries, letters, and interviews to tell the story, which spans six decades and chronicles the couple’s dedication to their patients, even as they faced stigma and detractors.

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by Theresa Burns ’81

In a poetry collection partly inspired by the Robert Frost poem of the same name, Burns explores themes of intention, faith, and fate in all facets of life. The anthology has already received acclaim—an early, unpublished version was named a finalist for both the Barry Spacks Poetry Prize from Gunpowder Press and the Homebound Publications Poetry Prize.

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The Psychopomps
by Sean Patrick Byrne ’00

“Janzen raced southbound into the city faster than anyone, and with each increasing number on his speedometer, he reached closer to freedom,” reads the opening paragraph of Byrne’s intense debut novel. The psychological thriller follows Janzen, a suicidal twenty-nine-year-old who is held captive after attempting to jump from a supposedly abandoned building in his native Baltimore.

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12 to 22
by Jen Calonita ’96

In a decidedly Gen-Z twist on the “overnight age-up” trope (seen in movies like Big or 13 Going on 30), Calonita’s latest young adult novel finds twelve-year-old Harper spontaneously transformed into her twenty-two-year-old self thanks to a magical TikTok filter.

Ilustration of Lillie R. Albert

  Illustration: Joel Kimmel


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“Yaa Gyasi’s fascinating novel follows the lives of two half-sisters from Ghana. One of them, the overindulged child of a prosperous father, is kidnapped by invaders from another village, sold to the British, and transported to America as a slave. The other marries an Englishman and lives comfortably in a castle on the Cape Coast. Through multiple points of view across several generations in one family, the book sheds light on the difficult legacy of slavery, both in West Africa and in the U.S.”

Lillie R. Albert, professor of mathematics and technology education at the Lynch School of Education and Human Development

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