For several years, the senior director for alumni relations has invited me to share my impressions of current life on the Trinity campus in remarks during Alumni Weekend. I’ve titled those observations, “Down Memory Lane ““ and Beyond.”
Since I’ve served this community since 1958, the alums who attend the presentation represent a mind boggling age range, but, interestingly, I remember them all as youngsters in their late teens and early twenties. They remember me as I was when they were students: some recall me as I was at 24, others, as I was at 54 and even 64 “and beyond.” Trust me, this makes for a perplexing encounter for all.
In preparing my remarks, I endeavored for years to present fresh observations and recently discovered inspirational quotations, but, eventually, I realized that at each Alumni Weekend most in the audience haven’t attended previous speeches. Thus, shamefully, I recycle my remarks, only updating by including anonymous opinions of current students in my classes. I rationalize that this tiny update makes my speech fresh and apt.
I feel no guilt in doing this; it is my recollection that most alums through the years/decades never paid much attention to what I said or wrote in a memo stuffed in their post office boxes (in those days before email), so I will likely be the only one recognizing recycled material.
But, I must admit that I loved the responses to this year’s “opinion survey” and can hardly wait to share them. The approximately fifty students in the three classes I teach were surprisingly of like minds in…their responses to my question: “What…. aspects of campus ““ faculty/staff, fellow students, facilities, grounds, technological resource ““ do you most appreciate and/or value?”
Here are some of my favorite responses: “Relationships with both faculty/staff and students have made this experience worthwhile. I feel so supported and encouraged here. Trinity is full of lovely, passionate people.”
“I most appreciate approachable and caring professors and the infinite resources at my finger tips.”
“Professors 100%. I think this is the only time in my life when such smart, talented, accomplished, dedicated people will actually care about me and what I have to say. The superb faculty is the best gift of Trinity.”
How about that? If your answer would not be somewhat similar, I dare to suggest that you aren’t taking advantage of the best aspect of attending this institution. Even if you are a graduating senior, it’s not too late. Seize the opportunity to enrich your life by accepting this rare advantage of a Trinity University education.
While you are doing that, I, of course, will continue to try to sneak into my Alumni Weekend remarks a few student views that I’ve used for years in response to: “What do you know now that you wish you’d known before attending Trinity”?
“You can run, but you can’t hide on this campus.”
“”˜His transitions were excellent,’ is a good thing to say when you’ve been called on in English class but weren’t paying attention.”
“Liquor before beer, and you’re clear. Beer before liquor and you’ve never been sicker.”
And, an all-time favorite: “It’s better to be yourself than pretend to be something you’re not.”
As always when I “revise” these remarks for alums, I remind myself of Trinity University’s remarkable legacy and rich promise. It doesn’t hurt for me to remind you as well.
Coleen Grissom is a professor of English.