Alumni Column: School is Merely the Beginning of Your Everlasting Colgate Experience

Becky Bye, Class of 2002

Are you looking forward to the day you graduate and start the rest of your life? When you started at Colgate, did you assume that you would spend four years, learning and growing, and then move on? If so, I am about to burst your bubble. 

While you may someday leave campus, Colgate will never leave you.

When I started at Colgate, I assumed I would spend my early adult years at this beautiful institution engaging in various academic and social experiences to ultimately obtain a valuable piece of paper to bookmark the effort. Then that chapter would conclude and be reduced to a single line on my resume.

I was wrong. And I am so grateful that I was wrong about this assumption.What I failed to realize is that graduating from Colgate can be the start, not the end, of a different Colgate experience.

I recall the beginning of this epiphany during my senior year. I was flying on a plane, and I initiated a conversation with the man next to me. When I mentioned I was a senior at Colgate, the instant smile across his face said it all — he was an alum and pointed to his college ring. Suddenly, this person was no longer a stranger but a long-time friend. At the time, I was so moved by this interaction and the strong sense of community amongst Colgate alumni that I wrote an article about it for this very newspaper.

My last year on campus was filled with the myriad of experiences you may — or may not — expect from senior year: an unplanned, mid-semester eviction from our off-campus house; breaking a chemistry machine valued in the six figures; meeting academic requirements (writing papers and more papers); good times (lots of laughter with friends), bad times (9/11), and weird times (Senior Stag); and graduation to cap it off (pun intended). Headed to law school in Denver, I was looking forward to a change of scenery. 

But I soon missed my Colgate friends immensely, as well as so many aspects of the institution I took for granted: the safe academic environment where I could express myself freely; the interdisciplinary, thought-provoking classes; and the vast experiences I had outside of the classroom. And perhaps The Jug.

My yearning to remain part of the Colgate community prompted me to connect with alumni locally and worldwide. I attended Denver alumni events. I sought career advice, asking alumni questions about their careers and my own. Many alumni were eager to assist me, and I remember feeling awed by their kindness. I credit my first legal job to both the Colgate parent and alum who advocated for me to join as an associate at their firm. This type of commitment from members of the Colgate community is unique to only a small subset of colleges.

Through these initial endeavors, I found not only a renewed connection to the school, but also a realization that Colgate could continue to be a part of my present and future life. Over the years, I have pursued different ways to maintain my connection to Colgate. Currently, I am fortunate to be amongst friends, old and new, on the Colgate Alumni Council, an organization committed to engaging alumni and serving the best interests of students and the university. Our interactions with current students on campus are a consistent highlight of these meetings and help inform our decisions regarding how to improve Colgate. 

The line between an alum and a student is quite thin. Only a blink of eye separates the two. As a student, you are already in this Colgate alumni community. You are at the very beginning of a Colgate journey that will last a lifetime. 

If you chose, you could continue to make new friends and memories through Colgate. You will see people in public places, at work, at parties, at conferences, wearing Colgate clothes. You will realize that these people, who you may not know personally, are your friends. I encourage you, starting now, to embrace the permanence of Colgate in your life. 


Becky Bye graduated from Colgate in 2002 with a double major in Chemistry and Religion and with high distinction in the liberal arts core curriculum. At Colgate, she studied abroad with the Manchester Study Group, was a cheerleader, tutored chemistry, participated as an off-campus senator for the student government, and wrote for the Colgate Maroon-News. She also holds a law degree and dental degree and is currently in-house counsel at a health technology company. You can find her rooting for Colgate athletics, volunteering for Colgate, or approaching anyone she sees on the street wearing Colgate apparel. She is currently the incoming Legal Counsel on the Colgate Alumni Council, and her favorite number is thirteen. You can contact her at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.