Something seems fitting that for my first submission to The Colgate Maroon-News ever, 12 years after graduating, I’m cramming the night before the deadline to write these words, but here goes. This past Friday was Colgate Day, and in Washington, D.C. we had an incredible turnout of 80-plus alumni join together to celebrate the occasion. Some came in groups, some by themselves, some had just moved to D.C. and knew no one well, but all attended due to the connection that binds us by the experiences we had at Colgate and our love of our alma mater. For the Class of 2018, about to embark on your next chapter, rest assured that your Colgate journey is not over.
I still remember vividly being a month away from graduation with no set job, and that dreadful feeling that my time in a place I loved so much was about to come to an end. While I certainly was happy that I would no longer have to write papers in the Hall of Presidents (the class of 2006 had the pleasure of the library being under construction and closed our senior year), I knew that many experiences over the next 30 days were going to be for the last time. What I didn’t know was that for the years to come, for me now three times my Colgate undergrad experience, your post-grad connection to Colgate can be as strong as you make it.
For the Class of 2018, you are about to leave with lifelong friends, but you’ll also have the opportunity to add to that Colgate bundle. Whether you move back home, to NYC, the west coast, D.C. or abroad, there will be alumni ready to welcome you. Even better, you will have the chance to get to know those in your class or classes around you that you might not have had the opportunity or need to do so before. You’ll be removed from your chosen social groups, teams, clubs, concentrations, housing situations, etc. and be thrust into the “real world.” Take this exciting opportunity to connect with your fellow Colgate alumni wherever you land. Reach out to the local alumni club, reconnect with those you knew (or barely knew) that graduated before you, and get involved however suits you. Just as you were advised to try new things by your FSEM advisor and Link leader, you can now choose new Colgate alumni experiences to explore.
I still remember being a couple of years out of college and seeing Facebook photos of a close buddy (Instagram and Snapchat were not invented yet) and thinking, “You hang out with that guy? We barely knew him.” Now, that seems like an absurd thought, and I count amongst my closest friends many fellow Colgate alumni whom I didn’t know well during those four years. What brought us together was being in a new place, a new post-grad world and having the ties of the Colgate experience to connect us. If you had told me in April, 2006, when I was dreading graduation on a daily basis, that over a decade later as a result of returning to campus three times a year to serve on the Alumni Council I would count as great friends a member of the class of 1981 and also an intern my organization hired from the Class of 2018, I probably wouldn’t have cared. But these are the unique opportunities you have ahead of you. You’ll find that there’s something special about Colgate people. You’ve probably figured that out already during your time on campus, but it extends beyond Hamilton. There’s a passion amongst us to achieve, to give back and to look out for each other. That’s what brought so many Colgate alumni of different years and different backgrounds together on a crowded D.C. rooftop bar this past Friday on Colgate Day. Whether having just graduated the year before, or forty years before, the opportunity to connect as a Colgate community never gets old. The first part of your Colgate journey is coming to an end, but you have a lifetime for the rest of it to unfold.