It’s your first year and you have four years ahead of you to explore, learn, experience, grow and know all things Colgate. At 18 or 19, it seems like a good amount of time – after all, four years represents nearly one fourth of your life to-date. Then, before you know it, you’re taking the last exam of your sophomore year and thinking “Really? Is it already half-way over?” Junior year is a blur – that semester abroad is life changing, an incredible experience – but your time on campus is all too brief. And now, in what seems like a nanosecond, you’re a senior (almost a second semester senior) and you’re wondering “How can that be?” The future looms large ahead of you, you’re not sure what you’re going to do and you’re not ready to leave Colgate behind. You want to stop time (or at least slow it down) and you’re determined to savor every, all too swift, minute.
Sound familiar? I remember feeling that way too (yes, so many years ago now) and was reminded of it by my daughter who is now that senior. During fall break, she was lamenting the swift passage of time and already beginning to mourn the end of her time at Colgate. It is premature, to be sure, but she knows it is coming and coming fast.
Having the benefit of hindsight, here’s what I can share with you: Yes, your time at Colgate is incredibly special, worthy of savoring and even lamenting its end (although it’s best to wait until it actually ends). But the truth is that after four years, it’s time for a new challenge and you will be so ready for the next chapter, whatever it may bring. It’s admittedly a little scary, Colgate feels so safe and secure and fun, but trust me, it will be time to go. Better yet, although you will leave campus, you will discover that you never really leave Colgate behind. Colgate has a way of following you and weaving in and out of your life throughout the years, at times in subtle ways – at other times, with a palpable impact. So, if you, like my daughter, find yourself mourning the impending end of your time at Colgate (or is it your youth?), take heart because you get to keep Colgate.
My connection to Colgate is as strong and meaningful today as it was while I was a student. It’s different, but still wonderful and rewarding – not to mention, a lot of fun. I thought it was important for you to know this. With the recent press given to the group which calls itself “A Better Colgate” or “ABC” for short, you might be under the misguided impression that Colgate alumni, on the whole, are disgruntled or, at the very least, disengaged. In truth, ABC represents only a tiny fraction of the alumni population and its voice is not representative. Most of us take great pride in Colgate, celebrate the significant advances that our alma mater has made, and are so very impressed with all of you (who are, on average, a lot smarter and even more engaged than we were). In short, we are very pleased andsupportive of the University – and you.
Of course, like any relationship, it improves with nurturing. So when you leave campus, stay involved in Colgate. Keep your Colgate friends close to you. Become a member of a District Club or better yet, take on a leadership role. Cheer on your favorite Colgate team. Help with Colgate admissions. Participate in Real World or a Career Workshop. Support the arts at Colgate. Get involved in the Colgate Alumni Council – the true voice of Colgate alumni. Pay it forward in a way that is meaningful for you and lend your experience and help to the Colgate students that follow you. You will feel good if you do. After all is said and done, we are all stewards of Colgate and have the power to make Colgate an even better place than the one that we remember so fondly and hold in such high esteem.
Colgate is yours for the keeping. Embrace it and make it count.