Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I too was a freshman once

It was the late 1960s, a key time period in our country’s history with my generation leading a social revolution. We were coming into our own, setting the stage for new speaking platforms for women and minority groups, and facing the draft in the time of a very unpopular and ultimately unwinnable war. A college campus was the place to be for a young person, and I was heading there to begin a new chapter of my life.

I arrived at the University of California, Berkeley, a school three times the size of BU with about 20,000 students, following a 400-mile trip in a car with my parents. The first thing I did after they left was buy a carton of cigarettes, even though I didn’t really smoke. It must have been a sign of independence. I quickly learned it wasn’t a wise decision and stuck to my instincts of living a healthy lifestyle ever since then.

As an incoming freshman, I was exposed to the precursor of the Living and Learning Communities — like we have here at Bloomsburg. There was mass advising in the dorms about the first semester courses and general education. We were assigned to an advisor within our major, who in my case had little to no interest in me as a freshman. It ended up being one of the main reasons why I changed majors, from chemical engineering to biology during my spring semester.

My first roommate and I were not compatible. I chalked it up to us having different academic and lifestyle interests, so I moved in with an English major in the spring. We quickly became the closest friends, actually to this day best friends. We’ve gone on an annual fishing trip for the past 25 years. It goes to show many connections you make in college can last a lifetime, as does the commitment you make in class.

In my convocation address last week I quoted Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.: “Man’s mind, once stretched by new ideas, never regains its original dimensions.” I certainly had a mind of different dimensions after my freshman year in college, and I am sure you will as well. I give our freshman my best wishes for an exciting, rewarding, and successful collegiate career at BU.

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