Alumni Column: Lasting Connections

Colgate alumni pose at Tal-ee (01) and Katie (01) Roberts 2007 wedding.

With Permission from Tal-ee Roberts

Colgate alumni pose at Tal-ee (’01) and Katie (’01) Roberts’ 2007 wedding.

When I arrived at Colgate in 1997, I was both excited and afraid. I was worried about being able to handle the course load, and making friends had been a challenge for me in high school because I’d moved to a new town during my 8th-grade year. But college offered a fresh start, and I was excited to be in a new place with so much going on — both in an academic sense and a social one.

Many people in my dorm (East Hall) seemed to keep to themselves, but I made a concerted effort to talk to as many of my classmates as I could. I saw people studying on the first floor, and I went up and introduced myself. I went down to the ice rink and played on any intramural hockey team that would have me. I sought out people with different interests by going to events, guest lectures and performances, and I joined student groups (especially if they provided food). Before I knew it, I had made some great friends; life-long friends, as it turns out.

There’s no real blueprint for your individual college experience, but don’t be afraid to take classes outside your comfort zone. Don’t be reluctant to attend an event that you typically wouldn’t. It’s the best way to acquire new skills, develop your emotional intelligence and, in the process, take full advantage of a unique period of your life when you have the time and resources to explore new things and put yourself out there.

I probably did too much in the way of extra-curriculars while in college — I even dressed up as Max Fischer for Halloween one year (for fans of the movie “Rushmore” out there). But building friendships takes time and effort, especially lasting ones. I can count my best friends from Colgate as the Best Man at my wedding, as well as two of my groomsmen. And I met my wife during our senior year… at The Jug.

I was short one Phys Ed. credit required for graduation (back then they required four credits). Some of my friends had signed up for “Latin Dance” and that sounded fun, but I didn’t have a partner. So, while dancing poorly among the noise and lights that is a late night at The Jug, I asked Katie if she’d be my Latin dance partner. Not knowing how the request would ultimately change the course of our lives, she agreed.

You never know what’s going to lead you in a new direction, or who you’re going to meet. I’m not saying you need to meet your spouse, especially late night at The Jug, but do keep your eyes and heart open to any and all possibilities.

Academics are important, maybe more so at Colgate than some other places. But don’t let them overshadow the opportunities you have to meet people from different backgrounds, from all over the world, and with whom you’ll always share memories of this beautiful place on a hill.