English major Erin Bancroft '09 was one of six winners in the My Colby-Sawyer Experience Art and Essay Contest this spring. Bancroft, who graduated in May, wrote the essay below about her Colby-Sawyer experience.
Learning in all its Capacities
by Erin Bancroft '09
When I first pulled into the loop, with the white sign proclaiming Colby-Sawyer College, 1837, prominently displayed in the middle of the lawn, I sat up in the passenger seat, eyes and mind alert. My step-mother drove and smiled as she also took in the sight of the campus. It was she who had come across the small school when helping me in my college search, and she was convinced it was where I belonged.
This particular day was not the most ideal for traveling: it was the morning after an ice storm, but I was surprised at how beautiful the school looked even while covered in layers of ice and shielded by a dark and dense fog. I toured the campus with rain pelting my skin, my step-mother and I both crouching under an umbrella blown about by the fierce wind. Even then, I knew Colby-Sawyer was a special place.
The months that followed involved narrowing my search for the school I'd be attending in the fall, but I knew from that first visit to campus that Colby-Sawyer was the place for me. With encouragement from my step-mother, I enrolled in Colby-Sawyer and have been reminded every day, even after four years here, that I made the right decision.
As someone who never went to sleep-away camp as a child, I wasn't sure how I'd adjust to college. I was lucky to have been paired with a roommate with whom I got along miraculously well. We developed a friendship that is strong and has lasted into my senior year, while gaining friendships with others in each year spent here as well.
I knew before I enrolled in college that I'd want to study abroad at some point. As my sophomore year flew by, I needed guidance on beginning the process. It was easier than I imagined, with straightforward and helpful advice in evaluating countries and schools, going through the application process and preparing to move to a foreign country for a semester.
I chose to study in Cork, Ireland, after taking Irish literature my freshman year and becoming completely engrossed in the country's literature and culture. My old fears of not being able to adapt to life away from home completely dissolved with the support and warm welcome I received upon enrolling at Colby-Sawyer, so I knew I was prepared to spend months in another country.
Again, with the support of my step-mother, I applied to University College Cork with the help of the study-abroad coordinator and was accepted for the spring program. While there, I studied Irish literature and culture at a much closer and authentic level.
During that semester, my step-mother, who had always encouraged and supported me, passed away. It was challenging and unexpected, but I finished the semester in Ireland and came back to Colby-Sawyer with a vibrant outlook and new understanding of life and a different culture, as I knew she wanted me to.
As a senior about to graduate, I am now fully enveloped and involved in my Capstone research, which I developed an interest in while taking Irish Literature and studying in Ireland. Looking back on the four years I've spent here, every decision I made was reinforced with the knowledge that I had an academic community and group of like-minded peers to support me, and a community in which I have been allowed to grow, make mistakes, and find out more about myself than I ever imagined possible.
The experiences and opportunities I have been given at Colby-Sawyer are unmatched to any other, and I am thankful and appreciative of them every single day. I know my step-mother was right in encouraging me to consider and apply to Colby-Sawyer. I still remember my first day on campus when the school shone like a jewel, from its charming New England appearance to the friendliness and open arms of the faculty, students and staff, which wrapped itself around me like a blanket that's kept me warm these past few years.