Earlier this week I drove around New England from college to college. Typical Tuesday, right?
I started the morning with a whirlwind of emails, scheduling, and interviews for our future ACUHO-I intern. Then coworker and friend Sarah and I hopped in the car and sped off to UMass Lowell to look at the rooms we’d be using at the All of the Above Conference that’s this coming Saturday. It was great making connections, seeing the insides of a campus I had driven past for years growing up, and just feeling ready for the logistics to come.
Our day was far from over, however. I took Sarah out to Springfield, MA with me so she could reconnect with some friends from graduate school and I could reconnect with my old home, Western New England College (cough…um…University..sorry old habits die hard ). I had been asked to speak at an alumni panel for some of our current Skookum winners (an all encompassing leadership award that I was grateful enough to receive back in the day) to speak on the transitions out of college and the realities of adulthood from our different perspectives.
I’ve always been willing to help out when asked through the alumni office. Western New England changed my life and gave me a chance to succeed. When I left the campus center that night ready to drive back to Rhode Island I couldn’t help but get emotional walking around the center of campus.
Some may have wanted to graduate and move on with their lives. They took what they needed, have used it, and have closed that chapter. I have taken what this place has given me but I love coming back. I love the connections, the memories, the feel of the campus.
Working in student affairs, people ask me if I’d ever return to work at my alma mater. On the surface I have considered it. Down deep I love the idealism that it has left me with. I want it to be a gem, polished and perfected in my memories. I will always come back. I will share that place with friends and family for years to come.
I am so grateful that I have been given the chance to be an active alumna and give back to a place that gave me so much. On the drive home, Sarah pointed out that since leaving campus I had yet to stop smiling. Happiness running through my veins after the multiple coffees of the day had left them, I couldn’t argue with her. That campus never leaves me short of happiness.
To still have that connection two and a half years later, I am forever grateful.