This past week, Hamilton College celebrated its bicentennial with a weeklong, all-alumni reunion event. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to go to school in Clinton, NY when Hamilton first received its charter from the New York Board of Regents, especially because I wouldn’t have been allowed to attend. But even more importantly, I can’t imagine having gone to school anywhere else when it came time for me to select a school. Two years into my higher educational career, Hamilton is no longer just a space where I study; it’s a place I call “home.”

Below is an entry I wrote for the College’s Admission blog about the distinction between places and spaces, based on my experience at Hamilton:

February 21, 2012

I’m reading Keith Basso’s Wisdom Sits in Places, an ethnography of Western Apache language, for my Anthropology course right now. The book beautifully describes Apache naming practices, by way of which the Apache people transform spaces into places.

A place, as opposed to a space, suggests deeper meaning—personal significance and emotional attachment. The distinction got me thinking about when I first came to Hamilton. It was the summer of 2009, and I was making my final college visits. The Hill was just a space at the time—Hamilton College, not Hammy, not HamTech, not My Hamilton.

But after that visit, Hamilton began to establish its status as a place. The school made a big impression upon me, and I decided to apply Early Decision I. A person’s top-choice school defines him or her in high school, or at least so was the case at my own. Most colleges attract a certain type, or types; Big Ten schools appeal to superfans, southern universities are preppy, etc. Liberal arts colleges, too, attract a specific kind of student, but it’s harder to express exactly what kind of student that is. For all its ambiguity, I always knew a liberal arts education was the route I was going to take.

A few weeks before I sent my application to Siuda House, my dad, brother and I participated in Bike MS NYC. We had been biking in the race annually as a group for years, and since I would be at college—somewhere—the following fall, it was our last Bike MS as a group.

Because the race takes place in October, we usually had to dress in layers. Under a windbreaker and fleece, my brother, Sean, was sporting a Hamilton t-shirt. As the day progressed, and the sun came out, the t-shirt did, too.

Now, it’s not unusual that people make small talk during the ride. When you’re on a 60- or 100-mile route through New York and New Jersey, there are challenging points, as well as stretches of flat terrain for cruising and chatting. On one of the flatter portions of the route, an older man seemed distracted by Sean’s t-shirt. He greeted us and shared that he was an alumnus. I had never run into a Hamilton graduate before and didn’t expect that it would happen so candidly. He wasn’t sure what Hamilton was like anymore, but when he had gone there, it was a “nice place” to go to college.

In the second chapter of his book, Basso explains the Apache belief that places remain with people, even after they have left them. Hamilton took on this quality of place-ness before I was even accepted to the Class of 2014. And once I was a student on the Hill, I began to partake in naming practices similar to those of the Western Apache as I adopted Hamilton slang into my lexicon. Someday, you’ll be taking classes in KJ or eating Diner B with friends. Someday, I hope, Hamilton will be a place for you.


Sophomore Year Roundup

Didn’t I just start college? How am I halfway done? I’m not saying I feel like a freshman; in fact, I feel like I’m lightyears away from that version of myself. Still, I’m shocked at how quickly two years went by and how much has happened since I first moved into my freshman dorm room.

I’ve learned a lot since that photo was snapped. In my final post as a Hamilton Admission Journalist, you can read about some of the lessons I took away from my sophomore year.

In Defense of 20-Somethings

The transition from the teenage years to “adulthood” is a big one—or, at least, it feels big when it’s happening. Being a teenager is a long and mostly painful experience that ends when you turn 20.

I celebrated my 20th in December. The birthday resembled many I’ve had in the recent past. My roommate, Meghan, came to visit me in Millburn, and we went out to dinner with my family. When we got home, I had a few of my good friends over for cake. Whereas other milestone birthdays—such as 13 for myself and 16 for many of my friends—consisted of elaborate parties with official invitations, this one was pretty unremarkable. Not only that: It instilled in me a sort of anxiety.

This generation shrouds the 20-to-29 age bracket in dread. We’re always hearing about how terrible the job market is, and the closer we get to graduation and the “real world,” the more tangible the threat of unemployment becomes.

At the same time as we’re trying to figure out what we want to do, we’re also supposed to be figuring out who we are. You might think the self-discovery chapter of your life will be over when you graduate high school. You might think it’s already over. But I promise you: It’s not.

However, we young adults, the innovators we are, are finding ways to rise against. I’ve met people my age who are CEOs of companies they’ve founded independently. I have some incredibly talented friends who will be interns this summer at companies where they might someday work. I know students who have received prestigious awards in their areas of study, students who are genuinely passionate about what they do.

My point is twofold. First, turning 20 may seem like a rite of passage, but you’re only an adult insofar as you act like one. That being said, a 17-year-old has the capacity to surpass a 22-year old in mental age. Just because you’re in high school doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start taking yourself seriously. There’s so much you can do. Why not start now?

via Hamilton Journals