One of the great things about going to a small school like Susquehanna is the accessibility of our professors. We are lucky to have a very accessible president as well. President Lemons is notorious on campus for his friendliness towards students and stunning ability to remember students’ names, as well as his annual Twas the Night Before Christmas reading before winter break.
Over the course of their senior year, all students are invited by President Lemons to a breakfast or a lunch. In a way, these meals serve as a focus group for students to share their experiences with Susquehanna—good and bad—with someone who has the power to make change. I went to this breakfast with a group of students last Friday. I thought it might be interesting to share some of the reflections that breakfast prompted.
The first question we were asked was how and why we chose Susquehanna. I was initially drawn to Susquehanna by its creative writing program. As a high school student, I attended two of the summer writing workshops held at SU, which helped contribute to my love of the place as well as my confidence that a Creative Writing major, not some English major with a creative writing concentration, was what I wanted. Of course, I could’ve studied Creative Writing somewhere else. Though I may want to say that the particulars of SU’s Creative Writing program is what sold me, that isn’t true. It was the Susquehanna atmosphere. When I came to campus on Accepted Students day, I knew the other school I was considering just didn’t compare, in terms of the feeling it gave me. Thankfully, Susquehanna offered me an assistantship scholarship where I would get work experience in the University Communications office that helped make the school the sound choice as well.
Though the Creative Writing program is what drew me here, it’s amazing to think of all the great things I’ve experienced outside the department—things I didn’t even consider when I enrolled! In particular, I think about how enriching my Religious Studies major is and how I might not have ended up adding a second major in the field at another school, where I wouldn’t have encountered the same, wonderful faculty or may not have been encouraged to enroll in a religion class for Central Curriculum credits.
The second question we were asked was our favorite part of Susquehanna. Though it felt very cliché to say so, I had to be honest. My favorite part is the people. I was blessed to meet really great people my freshman year of college in Hassinger Hall. Every year since, I’ve lived with some combination of these people, and still, all my closest friends lived with me on the third floor. Our friendships, however, have blossomed since then, and we have lived so much of our college lives together. The faculty figure into that favorite people answer as well.
During our breakfast, I specifically mentioned how great I’ve found all the Religion faculty members. I’ve enjoyed every one of the professors I’ve had through the department and have gotten into great conversations with many of them. I’ve taken three courses with one of the professors who has really helped shape the way I approach Scripture, particularly in terms of feminist issues. She is currently advising me on my capstone, and I love getting to meet with her to discuss the ideas I’m exploring. She has also been happy to talk to me about careers and graduate school. Another one of the professors has talked with me various times about vocation and my future when he served as our interim chaplain. He also took a friend and I out to lunch to discuss how to give rebuttals to sexist ideas about female leadership in the church. When I had class with Rabbi Palley on Intro to Judaism, she gave a friend and I encouraging words about being progressive women within a faith community.
The third question asked what I would change about Susquehanna. Though Susquehanna isn’t perfect, and I did have an answer ready for that, it felt notable that I wasn’t able to choose from a long string of complaints. Susquehanna is and has been the right school for me; that's something I will be able to say with confidence as I graduate.
I know a lot of people don't have a college experience like this. Their college might be a school, but it never feels like a home. Some people I know don't like their colleges at all and are counting down until they can get out of there. I know other people who don't get the right school on the first try and eventually transfer to some place that makes them happier.
I am quite privileged to have had this warm, positive experience of college life ever since I walked on campus in August 2010.