The Core Curriculum is one facet of many that grounds each Colgate student in a collective shared experience. We share our Core classes. Legacies of the Ancient World proved an instrumental course for my Colgate career. In it I found a second major (Religious Studies), an advisor and friend (Professor Lesleigh Cushing) and a guiding set of principles I return to frequently. The Pirkei Avot is a traditional Rabbinic text comprised of three essential questions we must consider as we progress throughout our individual journeys. Where do we come from? Where are we going? And before whom do we stand accountable?
At Colgate we come from near and far, leaving home in eager anticipation of what this college on a hill could mean for us. We question who will we become. Will we be homesick? Will we find friends? Will this be home? As we evolve at Colgate, our answers to these questions begin to shift. Our understanding of ourselves is reshaped. The path deviates from our expectations of how our experiences will unfold – what college should be like. We find happiness in our little victories. We fight sadness and loneliness in our stress, impending deadlines and rejections. Some seek love while others chase after its antithesis: the Jug hook-up. We crave connection in our small community – people to celebrate our success with and ease our loneliness or sadness in darker times. These little pursuits come to define us – who we are to ourselves, how others see us and ultimately the people we hope to become. My narrative changed while at Colgate – I found my place, my happiness and my people here – and for that I have been made all the better.
Colgate has taken me to a semester of golf and travel in St. Andrews, Scotland, an internship at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and home to suburban Pennsylvania for familiar comforts and encouraging words from my parents. With graduation looming on the horizon, the old questions return. Where am I going? Where will home be? Will I feel homesick? What will life be like away from the familiar Harkness table, without my favorite fourth floor staircase cubicle, no longer enjoying my routine Hamilton Whole Foods banana smoothie? I am not alone in my questions. The class of 2016 faces an ending, new beginnings, displacement from our comfort zones and open-ended questions for our futures.
I came to Colgate wanting to find myself in a new home and a community of like-minded curious, enthusiastic students, and in finding Colgate, I ultimately found myself. A Political Science and Religion double major. A Link. A Maroon-News editor. A Colgate Woman in Business. A Senior Admission Fellow. A VIP of the Old Stone Jug. A regular at Hamilton dining establishments. And most importantly, a proud member of the Colgate community.
A wise woman often articulated her encouragement to always “Remember who you are and what you represent.” Yet in our quests to find our own happiness we often lose sight of this accountability; we can, at times, get lost in our own narratives. We must remember too who we are as a community and how our actions affect those around us. It is this human connection that is transformative, for our Colgate experience would be meaningless without the connections we make here with our peers similarly seeking to define their places in the world and cultivate an understanding and sense of self.
Colgate can be the best four years of your life, but it doesn’t have to be. It is a learning experience, a time for growth both intellectually and spiritually. Colgate to me is the serendipitous encounters. The chance meetings. The Colgate hello. It’s much more than the regimented attendance of class, the late nights in the library, the binge drinking multiple nights (and occasional days) of the week. It is the times when we connect with each other, finding our commonalities and differences.
We owe it to Colgate to make it the best community it can be. And only in turn can we too hope for Colgate to make us the best possible versions of ourselves. In our alumni network we see embodied the spirit behind the notion of leaving every environment better than the way in which we found it. Pay it forward. Support the communities which you come from. I hope to have left Colgate slightly better than when I first found it in the fall of 2012. Create your own Colgate, but don’t forget to allow others the freedom to do the same. Cheers to you, Colgate. Thank you for all that you have given me in four years and the many years to come.