Community. It’s an overused word that means different things to people. I had no idea that when I said ‘yes’ to Colgate over 40 years ago, I would be joining an everlasting community through which I would learn the beautiful meaning of the word. I think I may be one of the few who committed to Colgate before really seeing it. My dad and I drove from Connecticut to Hamilton and arrived in the middle of a blizzard. We drove around, saw nothing but snow but somehow it felt right. Little did I know on that snowy day just how right it would be.
I joined the class of ’77 and immediately started to see the benefits of joining a forever community. My random freshman roommate, now one of my forever friends, and I started our letter exchange the summer prior to move in day. I attended orientation in June and met another forever friend as well as many future classmates. Like most Colgate students I came from a high school where I was very involved in leadership roles and felt accepted, loved and significant. I was used to being a part of something greater, but I had no idea how much better this future community I was joining would be. If I had only known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have been so nervous on move in day.
Freshman year started, and in a blink we graduated with many tears about leaving our safe place that held so many memories. We were off into the world, once again not knowing how our Colgate community would continue. Yet it did. As a new alumna, I reached out to many people in my search for a job and only two responded...two alums. One invited me to meet with him which resulted in a career at a major airline with this alum serving as my mentor for over 30 years until he passed. As my career developed, I worked hard at wearing many hats—professional career woman, wife and mom of three kids very close in age. I didn’t want to miss a single thing. I was that executive who could be presenting to the board during the day and staying up late at night doing mom things and never missing one single athletic event... even with two college athletes. What did suffer, though, was my Colgate community.
Yet what I learned is that once you are part of the Colgate community you are a forever member. Once I came up for air after our kids were launched and my retirement date was planned, I found a beautiful thing. I found that much like the established, gorgeous campus that only gets more stunning, the community gets more embracing and wonderful. Despite being underground for a few decades except for reunions, I found that our community stood ready to embrace me once again. That embrace came in many of the same forms. My forever friends and I picked up where we left off, the Kendrick women and our extended friend group participated in our own little reunion weekend in Lenox. The volleyball coach, despite not knowing me, was willing to chat with my son about the realities of the college recruitment process. There are still more ways I feel the welcome of the Colgate community, whether it be an impromptu discussion on a flight with a younger alum, a regional Colgate Club meeting where I met alums from a variety of classes, or the enthusiastic greeting when I return to campus for a reunion. Recently, I was invited to serve on the Alumni Council. I had always thought that the Kendrick women of the class of ‘77 were so fortunate, that our class was unique due to its closeness. What I have since learned is that this bond exists in most classes and is one of the many wonderful aspects of the unique Colgate experience. It is that sense of community that separates Colgate from other schools and it is what makes Colgate stand out. The Colgate community sets a very high bar in this country in many ways and we will continue to extend that bar even higher. One of my children recently expressed that he has never seen an adult express this much devotion to her alma mater. I think he is spot on.
To the current students of Colgate, please know that your participation in Colgate and your role as a member of the Colgate family doesn’t stop at graduation. Through a robust alumni community throughout the world, you will be welcomed and greeted with enthusiasm. You are part of Colgate forever.
I think we are so fortunate to be members of the Colgate community. It truly is everlasting, trusted and endearing. It is filled with people with big brains and bigger hearts. I just wish I could thank my parents once again for encouraging me and allowing me to attend this wonderful school tucked in the middle of Nature’s masterpiece where I found my true forever friends and my true forever community.