Today, I received one of my favorite questions when talking to prospective students: "Why did you choose Dickinson?" I happily spouted off reasons, starting with the story of how I used to pass the exit sign for Dickinson when I was little. Dickinson was, for a long time, the only school I knew, so it only seemed logical that I decide to go there in seventh grade. I then talked about how President Bill Durden agreed to meet with me as sophomore in high school to talk about Benjamin Rush for a history project. I mentioned how Professor St. Angelo (chemistry) talked to me on a campus visit, taking time out of doing research on a Saturday to talk to me about the major. She made me feel like she wanted me to succeed before I even started my application. When I was on campus, I felt like I belonged there. The campus felt like it was a community. The faculty wanted what was best for me without knowing who I was. Dickinson was challenging but supportive, and I wanted to be there.
After listing off the reasons for which I chose Dickinson, I kept going. I couldn't help it. I was too excited to share how Dickinson went beyond these expectations. I talked about the interdisciplinary nature of my education. I talked about finding value in global connections and understanding. I talked about feeling like I could make an impact on campus.
As I near the end of my first term at Caltech, I am thankful for Dickinson. I am thankful for the small class sizes that allowed me to build relationships with my professors. I am thankful for my departments—chemistry and mathematics—who cheered me on through coursework and research experiences. I am thankful for the programming opportunities I had with the Event Advisory Board and the Quads Community Association. I am thankful for the teaching experiences that fostered a passion I was sure didn't exist within me up until my first summer as a writing associate for the Summer Institute for International Students. I am thankful that I had so many opportunities to collaborate with other students and help them achieve, whether I was their teaching assistant or their tutor or their peer advisor. I am thankful for the research experience I gained from working with Professor Witter and the confidence she had in me to ask and answer my own research questions, preparing me for research beyond undergrad in a completely different field. I am thankful for fruitful relationships and opportunities to gain new, and often unanticipated, skills. I am thankful for a truly useful liberal arts education.
I am thankful that I am—and always will be—a Dickinsonian.