Reflections of a Colby-Sawyer College Graduate
By Marc LeBourdais '07
After my years at Colby-Sawyer College, the idea of graduating and not returning as a student for the next semester was a strange notion. After living and working in the same place and seeing the same people for so long, I had become so accustomed to the school that I was not sure I wanted to leave.
You're New in Town, Aren't You?
Having grown up near Bowdoin College in Maine and paid regular visits to my older brother at Middlebury College in Vermont, Colby-Sawyer seemed compact by comparison. Add to this the small size and relative isolation of New London, and I initially thought I might transfer to another school after a year or so. However, I came to realize that at Colby-Sawyer, there would be less likelihood of a student like me getting lost in the academic requirements. In that respect, a larger school would not have met my needs.
New London is a mixed blessing for college students: its small size can make it a difficult place for young people to live, especially since during freshman year many students go home every weekend. This sense of isolation, however, made it possible to form closer connections with classmates than at a larger college with more distractions. The snowfall of a New Hampshire winter also ensured that people eventually stuck around to get to know each other.
One piece of advice I would offer is that no matter how comfortable a particular residence hall might be, students should live in as many different ones as they can at Colby-Sawyer. Having spent three consecutive years living in Danforth Hall, I did not get a full appreciation for life on and off campus. As a senior I lived in Page Hall, where I got to know my floor neighbors better than I ever did in Danforth. This proved to me that you may have to move around a bit to find a place that truly suits you. While I wish it had not taken me three years, I am glad I eventually found the place where I felt most comfortable.
Everyone You Know
Professor Margaret Wiley, my academic advisor at Colby-Sawyer, was probably the single most influential faculty member I met here, as she helped guide me in the direction of being an English major and introduced me to other professors who would play instrumental roles in my development as a student. I might not have gotten to know my other professors as well as I did were it not for Professor Wiley.
During my time at Colby-Sawyer, I got to know so many people from various walks of life that it is hard to think of any one student who stands out most. I can say, however, that many of the people I met during my introductory Pathway course made a significant impact, especially since I found myself taking multiple classes with them over the course of four years. That sense of familiarity and watching how they changed and grew is one of the experiences that will remain with me.
Every student at Colby-Sawyer is expected to take a Pathway, which serves as an introduction to various subjects and courses, a sort of 'six degrees of separation' for undergrads. I selected Catharsis: A Theatrical Journey, taught by Professor Gerald Bliss, head of the theatre program, which educated students in the basics of theatrical productions and script-writing.
What remains most prominent in my mind about the class is Professor Bliss himself. He is one of those professors who knows how to talk to students in a way that provokes their interest and active participation in the material, with a certain wit and bluntness uncommon among professors. Although I would later take other more in-depth writing classes, this class was the first one that got me thinking about creative writing.
Ups and Downs
One lesson I learned the hard way is that people must always know their limits, and ask for help when they need it. During spring semester of junior year, I was taking several high-level classes as well as performing in a play, and eventually I found myself unable to cope with the workload. I failed a course and had to withdraw from another. It was the low point of my time at Colby-Sawyer, as I had let my pride get in the way of common sense. Hopefully, this is a mistake that others will avoid making.
Aside from that low point, I made great strides in my personal and intellectual growth during my college career. Before I came to Colby-Sawyer, I was extremely shy and did not have much academic aptitude or interest in politics, and all three of these aspects of my life changed for the better at Colby-Sawyer. If there is one piece of advice I can give to future students, it is this: Make the most of your college experience!