Once a Student, Always a Student


The Maroon-News Staff thanks the seniors for their time and dedication over the past four years and wishes them well in life after Colgate.

Take a second to think back on the last 16 years of your life. What has changed? Your answer to this question will allow you to see the hierarchy by which you define your identity. I know, cool right? For me, my first thought was location. While this may seem like an easy-out answer, location has played a huge role in determining the experiences I’ve had and more importantly the people that I’ve met along the way. I have been fortunate to call many places and spaces home. I have been a Bostonian, a Connecticuter, a Chicagoan, a Florentine and most recently a Raider (is there a word for resident of Hamilton?) As my zip code changed, I too felt my priorities and values change as well. But what I have rarely acknowledged is the one thing that has remained consistent through all the move-ins and move-outs, the first days and final days; the fact that through all of that I have identified myself with one simple yet highly complex word: student. 

From that first grade class when we learned to sing the Spanish alphabet, I have been a student of language. As I carried my conjugations with me through middle school, my fascination for language took me from D.C. to the Dominican Republic and into the world of creative writing. In high school, I added Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, J. D. Salinger, Mark Twain and Nathaniel Hawthorne to my literary toolbox. In college, I exchanged my Spanish-English dictionary for a round-trip ticket to Florence where I found unsurpassed gratitude for non-verbal communication. With little more than “Hilary Clinton” in her English vocabulary, my homestay mom and I began a four-month journey where we consistently swapped roles between student and teacher. 

As an incoming first-year I quickly became a student of political science. Whether it was learning the terminology that attempts to characterize our international political system or understanding how diplomacy relies on finding a common language between friends and foes, what drew me into the study of historical and contemporary regimes was the ability for small words to communicate big stories: denuclearization, containment, populism. For me, it was these words that connected me to our distant past and provided a roadmap for the future.    

As a member of The Maroon-News, I am forever a student and never a master of InDesign. If my experience in Florence taught me one thing, language is just as much seen as it is heard. Experimenting with layout, design, formatting and font allowed me to guide the reader across the pages that told the story of a typical Colgate week. While on a smaller scale, I too was communicating history, just as the political science scholars had done for me. 

Although, come May 20, I will no longer be a student in the Oxford English Dictionary definition of the word, I think I will always consider myself a student.  One of the most valuable qualities we possess as humans is our ability to learn at an incredible pace. We are learning even when we don’t realize we are learning, the beauty of the subconscious. As soon-to-be graduates, I find it so important that we must continue to seek out opportunities to learn but also to give back as much as we take in. We have so much to learn from one another; all we have to do is listen. I truly believe if we maintain the open mind we’ve been programed to possess as students in our post-college lives, there is nothing we can’t achieve.

Contact Jackie Dowling at [email protected].