The other day, a co-worker asked me how I ended up at Kalamazoo College. I thought back to a Saturday morning nearly a decade ago. Those of us from my high school’s cross country team who were around for the summer had just finished a long run, and our coach asked if any of us knew which colleges would be receiving our applications in the fall. I didn’t have a clue. Five minutes later, she passed me her cell phone and told me to talk to her friend Andy, who happened to be both the cross country coach and an admissions counselor over at K.
No single conversation has had a bigger impact on my life. While I am no longer a runner (despite having a great experience on K’s team), so much of what I hold dear today can be traced to my experience at K. I live in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley and work for a top-notch nonprofit organization called Migrant Health Promotion. I’m active in a small fellowship, sing with a band from time to time, and thrive on the local poetry scene. Most of my closest friendships have their origins at K (my godson, who’s just a five-minute drive away, is the son of a friend I met my first day at K and her husband, whom she met while we were on study abroad). Sometimes, I wake up and wonder if I’m living someone else’s life — not because I’d want it any other way, but rather because this life was beyond the scope of my imagination prior to setting foot on K’s campus.
I only have to turn around to remember how I got here. The path, though not straight, was sure: first year “Commitments” seminar; amazing first roommate; service-learning opportunities with Fair Food Matters and the AMIGOS tutoring program; externship at nonprofit organization Seafarers’ House; study abroad in Ecuador; internship and, later, job with Farmworker Legal Services; co-created SIP with above-mentioned friend in the Rio Grande Valley; a cappella performances; house with four best friends at 629 Davis Street; senior seminar to come to terms with all of it before donning cap and gown; the list goes on.
K is more than just a college. It is a community that teaches you to identify your place of deepest integrity and supports you in moving toward that place. K is with me wherever I go and in whatever I do. Of course, I didn’t know any of that as a high schooler finishing a summer run back in 2004; I just knew that I should take the phone that was handed to me and say “hello.”