Seize the Day Every Day at Colgate

Kelly Lehmann Johnson

I had an opportunity this fall to represent Colgate at a college night. Here at a Dallas, TX, high school, halfway across the country, I tried to “sell” our school to prospective students. Students like you. Each year I do this I realize that there isn’t a “Colgate type” – unless intelligent, curious, fun-loving and outgoing can be easily summed up. This fact makes me proud. Smart, fun people enjoy life.

I’m a member of the class of ’94, and I still think I’m young enough to “get” college life. Yet as I meet new alumni and travel back to Hamilton a few times a year, I realize how many things happen at Colgate that I did not take the time to experience. At your Colgate reunions (which are great, by the way – one of the perks to attending a great college), you will have the experience of meeting other people from your class. After some small talk and sharing what you are doing in the “real world,” you will often find yourself, like me, saying to people “I’m sorry I didn’t know you when we were in school together.”

Yes, it’s a small campus, but it’s also easy to get comfortable with your small group of friends – whether it’s your buddies from your first-year dorm (Stillman, for me), people in your house, or friends from a team. I meet other class of ’94 people annually that are so interesting – and not like me at all.

So take the time to get to know as many people as you can. Is there someone who really impresses you in a course this semester? Walk to the Coop after class to share a cup of coffee. Is there someone from a foreign country who lives in your dorm? Take the time to ask about his or her childhood and impressions of America. Do you have a friend with a religion different from your own? Spend those late nights talking about it – sharing differences and learning about customs.

Throughout my four years at Colgate, I had roommates who were Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim. I am glad I spent those late nights talking – I have learned that in the “real world” my exposure to my friends has made me much less judgmental than most of my adult peers.

Also, take the time to do as many activities as you can. I have met alumni about my age who love Colgate as much as I do, yet had entirely different experiences during their time here. I have a friend who was an art major, while I majored in math. I have friends who were very involved in Outdoor Rec, while I never went on a trip with them. I did a lot myself – rugby, then varsity track and field, Greek life, Volunteer Colgate, CUTV – and then I was honored my senior year to be selected to Konosioni, where I met another group of students who had been busy running and participating in other parts of campus.

One of life’s great lessons is that you cannot do everything at the same time. I should know – I’m currently at home with two small children while my husband, Colgate ’94 himself, works full time. But you can expose yourself to various activities and embrace the idea that there is not one “right” way to enjoy life.

Embrace the liberal arts experience – and truly learn how to learn. The world, like Colgate, would be a boring place if we all had the same passions. You will probably never be surrounded on a daily basis by as many smart people as you are right now. Take advantage of it to become a better person yourself. Fun and parties included, of course.

My advice for you is to spend time meeting different people and to try new things each semester. It will set you up for a lifetime of growth and help you to leave Colgate with a running start, ready to take on the world. In the meantime, there are alumni around the country who are trying to find more intelligent, curious, fun-loving, outgoing students to attend Colgate. It’s a great place.