I attended my 10 year (gulp!) college reunion a few weeks ago and I am having trouble really articulating what it meant to me. Where do I start? I guess I’ll start at the beginning…just a quick look-back.
I grew up on the west coast and knew I wanted to go somewhere completely different – western Massachusetts seemed to fit the bill pretty well. The land of quaint liberal arts colleges, full of New England charm. Mine was no exception. Founded in 1871, it has a long list of traditions and a pedigree to match. There was just a tiny difference between this school and most of the others – it was for women only. Now before you go bald scratching your head over that one let me explain. Well, actually, I can’t explain it. I didn’t really think too much about it until around November of my first year when I suddenly looked around me and not a man did my poor eyes see. Oops.
As it turns out, without the distraction of boys, friendships were stronger, studies were harder and overall, college life was an emotional roller-coaster much like any other school. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t fill out a transfer application to Stanford (more than once) but I never ended up sending it. I am so thankful that I toughed it out because this school gave me a gift I don’t think many others had the passion to give.
As Jane Lynch, who gave the 2012 Commencement Address (a must watch if you have time), said, “You are about to receive a piece of paper that proves to the world you are now fit to join the ranks of an elite and tremendously powerful group of game-changing women. You are fiercely independent, wicked smart, trail blazing, uber confident and shockingly entitled. Like I told you, I live with one of you. I have no doubt you will continue with this legacy and you will change the world. You’re highly educated. You are so schooled in critical thinking it almost hurts to look at you. The point of your education is to get you to poke holes in theories, to question, to be loath to accept anything at face value.”
Those four years were truly life-changing – especially my year in Paris – and the friends I made will be a special part in my life for eternity. This school also paved a path career-wise that might have been unattainable otherwise. This career gave me security and praise and even though I ultimately chose to get off that path, I am still reaping its benefits. Now I am ready to hop on another path. The question is, which one and how to make it happen?
The thought is so daunting that I didn’t know where to begin until I sat on the Quad lawn and listened to Jane Lynch’s speech; until I stood under the archway by Seeyle Hal and listened to the Noteables sing their acapella bits; until I dined across from my friends, laughing and sharing stories…the Smith injection is sometimes exactly what you need to kick your ass into high gear.
If ever I need a little reminder of my potential or of what this life should be about, all I need to do is look at where my young roots grew and the power behind those ivied brick walls will surge through.