Alumni Column – Staying Connected After Commencement

My 10-year reunion is next month.

Hard to believe, since it feels like just yesterday that I walked across a stage near Taylor Lake, collected my diploma and got a hug from Bill Cosby, the commencement speaker.

As I prepare for a weekend of revelry under a tent on Whitnall Field, I can’t help but think back to my first week on campus. It was 1995, and I had arrived in Hamilton a few days before first-year orientation to work on a special edition of The Maroon-News. I was terribly homesick, but when I walked into the newspaper office on the third floor of the Student Union, I thought, “This is where I need to be.”

I felt the same way about the third floor of Curtis Hall, my new home away from home. My double room seemed tiny, but my roommate and I got along right away. I lucked out with my neighbors, too. Several became close friends, and I continue to count on them; they are some of the best people I’ve ever known.

In four years, I never questioned whether Colgate was the right place for me. I felt comfortable there, both in and out of the classroom. And so, whenever anyone reminiscing about his own college days said to me, “You don’t know how lucky you are,” I simply smiled. I knew exactly how lucky I was.

My graduation day was bittersweet. I was proud of the work I had done to get there, but distressed about the passage of time. The next day, just hours after the last of the parties ended, I started to clean out another tiny room – this time, in a house on College Street. I choked back tears when it was time to say goodbye to my boyfriend, friends and roommates. Then I packed up my parents’ car and headed south on 12B, crying all the way to New Jersey.

Colgate had given me so much, and it pained me to think that my connection to it would end.

Fortunately, that’s not at all what happened. Two years after graduation, my boyfriend and I got married. Our wedding brought more than two dozen Colgate friends together again. Such mini-reunions have continued for the better part of a decade, as has my commitment to volunteering for Colgate. I badger classmates for Annual Fund donations, participate in alumni club events, attend college fairs, conduct informational interviews with prospective students and try to offer sound advice to current students — all in the name of giving back. But the truth is, I get something out of it, too.

I’m now completing a four-year term on the Alumni Council, which took me back to campus three times a year and reinforced that connection I once was so afraid of losing.

As I say goodbye this time around, I recognize that Colgate will never be able to shake me. I know that the opportunities for alumni involvement are great, and I fully expect to continue to take advantage of them.

To the seniors gearing up for graduation, I hope you will do the same. Consider all that you have gotten from the place that has become your home away from home. Become a volunteer and keep your connection alive. Because before you know it, ten years will have passed.