Donnell Bailey ’17, a sociology major from New Orleans, is a grateful graduate. As one of my mentees, he told me:
“Sophomore year, I used to put up quotes on my walls, as reminders of my guiding principles each day. One quote said, ‘Never forget the bridge that once helped cross you over.’ And there are so many people who have been bridges for me. Whatever act of kindness it was, it helped get me over to the other side. You don’t forget that.”
Throughout his four years at F&M, gratitude has been one of Donnell’s guiding principles. He served as student body president, earned an internship at the White House, conducted research – and he strives to honor the bridges that have brought him here. His name for his philosophy?
Of course, Donnell didn’t just cross the bridges of others; he built them, too. He created his education within our liberal arts tradition that launches graduates into lives of meaning and impact.
Each of our seniors has a story of ‘grad-itude’ worth celebrating – and those stories can offer eloquent testimony about the value of a great college education.
Take Briana Krewson ’17, from Schwenksville, Pa., a neuroscience major who will teach English in Poland next year as one of nine F&M Fulbright Scholarship recipients. Briana discovered leadership as the Writing Center’s head tutor, developed a voice for advocacy through our Environmental Action Alliance and conducted research with faculty mentors. She shared with me:
“My lab professor, Dr. [Rob] Jinks, has been guiding me on my journey. He's been patient and thorough in teaching, but knows when to let me go, so that I learn independently and really challenge myself in the lab. Every day, I leave my lab feeling energized, eagerly awaiting the next time I can discover something new. I know that science will forever be a part of my life.”
Then there’s Matt Regueiro ’17, from Pittsburgh, an outstanding pre-med student and Spanish major who traveled abroad to Chile on a medical mission trip and to South Africa with the men’s soccer team to share education and sports with wide-eyed children. Matt told me:
“I am really grateful that a school of F&M’s academic caliber also has a top-10 soccer program. My coaches and professors worked together with me to make sure that I could get the best academic and athletic experience, without having to pass on opportunities that my athlete friends elsewhere would have had to skip.”
When we hear what makes our graduates grateful, we understand what they value – a professor’s ethic of care, the chance to stretch their minds, the opportunities to play a sport, or win a postgraduate fellowship.
Their expressions of ‘grad-itude’ – and, so vitally, their perceivable growth as students and citizens of a world that needs them – reinforce the commitments of we who serve or support education to do our work still better for the next waves of students.