My Colgate Complex

Lizzy Dietrich


I can still remember reading those simple, bolded words on a poster taped to the window of the COOP door my freshman year four years ago. I remember thinking to myself, “that sign is a little random,” and then continuing on my way down the stairs to the mail center. Today as I look around, I am astonished to consider all of the change that has occurred here during these last four years.

Colgate is truly a special place. It’s a tight-knit community, yet at the same time it fosters individual growth and provides innumerable opportunities. Recently, when a prospective student asked me about my life at Colgate and how it has changed since my freshman year, I was surprised at my own response. I told her that I came to Colgate expecting to continue the things I had done in high school, like volunteer, play basketball and join a religious group. In reality, however, Colgate has enabled me to try so many things that I never thought I’d ever do: I’ve been an RA, joined a sorority, served as an editor for the school newspaper, and studied abroad for a semester. Needless to say, I never imagined that a small campus like Colgate would bring out a side of me that I never knew was there.

I’m aware that this article might sound a bit cliché, and that it is also very typical for seniors to reminisce about how wonderful Colgate is a few weeks before they graduate. However, I think it’s refreshing to reflect on the positive sides of Colgate and share some perspective.

I certainly wouldn’t argue that my four years here have been perfect. I was here during the entire cycle of the Case Library renovation and witnessed how difficult it was to not have a fully functioning library. I also vividly remember the controversy over the acquisition of the Greek houses during my freshman year, and wondering how I was going to survive such limited dining options in this small town. Even today, I still hear complaints about the inadequacy of Huntington gym, the untimely Colgate Cruiser, and the lack of parking all over campus. I’ve also had my fair share of trudging up the hill in tundra-like conditions and pushing through those stressful weeks of the semester. Still, as I sit here and try to think of all the problems and controversies that I’ve witnessed and experienced these last few years, nothing comes close to tainting the appreciation and affection I have for this amazing place.

According to Wikipedia, Colgate is a “highly selective” institution that ranks seventeenth among the liberal arts schools in the country. While four years ago I would have thought Colgate’s ranking was solely attributed to it’s stimulating academic environment, I now know that there is so much more to Colgate’s appeal. For example, I don’t think there are many other places where the Dean of Admission still remembers most of the names of the senior class, or a place where the lady at the dining hall swipes your meal card everyday with a genuine smile on her face. Not many schools have a beautiful lake to walk by every day on your way to class, professors that will take their classes to out to dinner, or strong enough connections to bring the Dalai Lama to speak at such a small campus.

As I reflect back on my experience in the Colgate bubble, I realize how lucky I am to have been here. Colgate was a leap of faith for me four years ago, having come all the way from Arizona and not knowing a soul. It astonishes me to consider how much I have changed during my time here and how ready I feel for what lies ahead. I’m excited and honored to graduate alongside my amazing class and join the so-called ‘real world’ Colgate network. Only now do I truly understand why Colgate alumni are proud to say that they went to Colgate. As a soon-to-be alum, I can’t say I’m any different.