Providing Change from Within
In my three years here (I’m a transfer, if you didn’t know), Clark has gone through some major changes.
They installed more space for working out, creating a 3,000 square foot workout and dance space in the gym. The year before they redid the floors in the gym, put in new bleachers, and donated the old wood towards the Worcester public schools.
They took my first residence hall, Johnson, added a whole new corner connection to it, and connected it to its brother hall, Sanford, in the new Johnson-Sanford Center.
They bought out a street and filled it in with grass and walkway to connect one side of campus to the other.
They added more space in our grab and go dining area, adding a sushi station(!) and really re-vamping a lot of what the Bistro used to be.
But – beyond the crazy amount of changes on campus, I think the largest change came from within. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. I started getting into fashion a bit more, wanting to reform my identity as an adult who wears chinos and button up shirts and is searching for the perfect pair of raw denim jeans. I found a love for political science, philosophy, and a psychology that isn’t about sitting people on a couch and talking to them about their problems. I travelled the world and started a collection of souvenirs (Harry Potter #1 in the language of the country – Luxembourgish, British English, French, Spanish, Portuguese — and need to go back to acquire German and Dutch!) and then did my Honors Thesis on souveniring.
Would I have gotten the same experience at the University of Vermont? Maybe. I did get to be a research assistant there as a first year- but here, I got to do my own study as a sophomore. I did get to have a single my first year – but I became best friends with my roommate at Clark as a sophomore. What was different about Clark that I think I could never have done at UVM was the feeling that I could do all of these things. It wasn’t a struggle or a search to find opportunities. The opportunities here were thrown at me , almost to the point of unavoidable. I was able to take full advantage of Clark due to the support system I found myself placed within, while at my previous school, I felt like a tiny fish in a huge pond. At Clark, my first email conversation with a Clarkie was a professor saying “I think you should choose Clark. You would fit well here.” and a 5000 word email from a just graduated senior, explaining everything (liberal arts, psych requirements, housing, course selection, advising, research) for no reason but he wanted to help.
So, future Clarkies, just enrolled Clarkies, potentially transferring Clarkies – realize this. A lot of schools can give you tools to succeed. Every school has a library. A writing center. A place to eat. A place to sleep. Faculty doing research. But – only certain environments will inspire you to pursue those interests. Only certain places will make you feel accepted, loved, important, and intelligent enough to trust you with your own ideas and passions.
And, as I head off to graduate school, I hope that’s what I will eventually bring to my own classroom. The lesson that Clark gave me. To provide the place, means, and support for growth – but to leave it up to my students on how far they want to travel down the rabbit’s hole that is change. To change our world by changing and challenging themselves.
Thank you Clark. Thank you.