Carry The Colgate Torch

Imagine yourself 20 years from now – a proud Colgate alumnus/a, perhaps married, perhaps the mother or father of adolescent kids. I know it’s a scary thought to think of yourself as a middle-aged parent when today your primary worries include what exams you have to cram for or what you are going to wear to the fraternity party tonight. Fast forward 20 years. Imagine yourself in my shoes, a stay-at-home busy mom of two young daughters who are excited to make their first trip to their mother’s alma mater – the hallowed gates of Colgate University.

My older daughter, age 10, having met many current Colgate students who spent their summers interning in Cleveland through the Summer on the Cuyahoga program, has started to ask questions like “What’s college really like?” and “What’s so special about Colgate?” She knows that Mom spends a lot of time volunteering for Colgate: planning events for these summer interns, as well as Cleveland alumni, and leaving home three times a year to spend the weekend at Colgate for Alumni Board meetings. But she wants to get more in depth. She wants to know how I spent my four years at Colgate and why is it that I love the school the way I do. That’s why I’m packing the SUV and road-tripping to Colgate for a mother-daughter bonding weekend. It leaves me with the task, though, of determining how to share my beloved alma mater with my daughters – trying to capture the “spirit that is Colgate” in less than 48 hours.

Where should I take them first – the Student Activities Office (now known as the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement) where I worked 20 hours a week planning Pub events and helping club leaders? Or how about Lawrence Hall, where I struggled almost daily through my mathematical economics classes? What about Bryan Complex, where I spent countless late nights hanging with my friends and trying to find time for a quick Sunday afternoon nap? Should I forgo the trip down Broad Street to my favorite fraternity haunts, punctuated by behavior one might not want to share with an impressionable pre-teen daughter?

What about a stop at Taylor Lake, the site of my memorable “first collegiate kiss” with a senior Colgate Thirteener (that might just gross out my seven year old)? I’ve determined that the Pizza Pub and New York Pizzeria for wings and slices are must-stop culinary delights that I need to share with my girls. Even if they did contribute to my freshman fifteen, those landmarks are as much a part of my Colgate history as any faculty member, friendship or fraternity party.

I hope I can capture why it is that I love Colgate the way I do, why I choose to volunteer my precious time for a school that is 400 miles away and from which I graduated 20 years ago this year. I hope to instill in my daughters a deep appreciation for the lifelong relationship that can develop when you graduate from an institution like Colgate. They see the countless hours that I spend on the phone calling fellow alumni to encourage them to come hear President Chopp speak with local alumni. They see the pile of Colgate napkins and nametags in my closet, ready for the next gathering of Cleveland students ready to welcome Colgate into their lives. Now I am proud to be able to show them all the beauty and spirit behind Colgate.

I hope that you, too, will find yourself volunteering for Colgate after you graduate – as an admissions volunteer, class gift agent, career mentor, club officer, class notes editor or Reunion committee member, whatever it is that you become passionate about. Maybe then you will find yourself returning to campus as a proud alumnus and sharing that passion with your sons and daughters. Your involvement as a graduate will ensure that the Colgate spirit lives on for the next generation.