Since I was the first in my family to attend college, all decisions about what school to attend, etc were left up to me. We did not even go to visit any campuses. The first time I set foot on my college campus was the day I showed up for Orientation. It was a bit frightening at times. But it was also immensely rewarding, because I ended up choosing a school that was right for me in so many ways.
I had a quintessential small liberal arts college experience, and it set the pattern for my life, both my life of learning and my life of leisure. I forged my own path in college and in the three succeeding graduate schools I attended. I did not make the right choice every single time in all aspects of my academic life, but I was given the freedom to choose my path. Recently, my mother was asked by a high school friend of mine how I managed to achieve what I have in life. She told my friend, "He did it himself." While none of us succeeds without the help of many people, by uttering those words, my mom was saying that I made the right choices. In my family, where I am still the only one to have attended college and where the Pennsylvania Dutch work ethic is still ingrained deeply, I am viewed as a success. That's why I love working on a university campus, because I know first hand how transformative a liberal arts experience can be.
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