Thursday, April 4, 2013

Alma Mater - Photo Log #1

Most anyone you ask would agree that the place they chose to go to college had an enormous impact on the rest of their lives.  When determining whether or not that impact was positive... well, that's a point you'll see a bit more variation in opinions on.  Whether for good or ill remains to be seen, but I chose Geneva College.  These pictures are from my tour before I enrolled, hence the pristine and vacant lawns.  As I'm swamped for time thanks to Camp Nanowrimo, I'd like to share a little about the place, the people I remember, and what I learned there.

Geneva is a fairly small Christian college in western Pennsylvania (Beaver Falls).  I primarily chose to go there because my sister was already going there so I had a built in "safety net" in case I decided I didn't like anyone else enough to befriend them (my apologies to my sister, who I know reads this blog).  Fortunately for the both of us, I proved less of a recluse than I expected and made the majority of my friends there.

Being a small Christian college, we didn't have much of a reputation, either positive or negative.  To this day, most people I mention the college to admit to being completely ignorant of its existence unless they are familiar with Joe Namath or the show Mr. Belvedere, the former being from Beaver Falls and the latter taking place there.  Our other claim to fame is being the location of the world's very first recorded college basketball game, which they make sure to tell you about on the tour several times. (It took place in the gym shown here... it's not actually crooked, the lamp was - I just played with the angle).  On the other hand, the small college vibe meant we never really attracted party students, so I can remember most of my college years.  I guess there's something to be said for obscurity.

My most distinct memories of Geneva are the people. I don't mean my friends, though they certainly are a large part of it.  Rather, I mean the professors, and I had some quite memorable ones.  You see, the other thing about being a small college was that you tend to see the professors around a lot outside of classes.  For example, there was Harvey, who I cannot even begin to count the number of times I turned around to discover he had been standing right behind me... for no other reason than to see how long before I noticed him. He was the head of the theater department on top of his professorial role. He actually offered me a role in one of the plays, which I  unfortunately had to turn down due to a lack of time (It was Arsenic and Old Lace, I still wonder how it would have turned out had I gone for it).  Then there were the Todd's, who both worked in the Communications dept, which lead to some confusion when talking to the folks at home about them.  The one taught us how to manage the subtleties of audio recording (or tried, in my case), the other expanded my worldview and put faces to names like John Lewis, Juanita Abernathy, and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and showed us why they mattered.  Then there was Jeff, who had more energy than the entire athletics department combined and channeled that energy into his teaching ... some of us even managed to pick up on it (seriously, the man is a dynamo, I don't know how he does it).

I'd have to say that my... well, I can't say my favorite professor as that would probably have to go to Russ Warren (he was one of my humanities professors... and he also owns the local coffee shop - what can I say? I love a good cup of joe).  No, the professor whose lessons I've come to value the most highly were those of Pete Croisant, an emphatic, energetic, and eccentric professor who demanded nothing less than the best you could offer... and he could tell the difference and wasn't shy about pointing out when you were just trying to coast by.  I didn't do very well in most of his classes as a result of this, though I'd like to think the lesson sank in by the time I graduated.

All told, these people taught or tried to teach me a lot of things, and time will tell how well I learned from them.  They helped reaffirm my love of writing, broadened my perspective, and taught me the value of giving my best instead of just doing the minimum required. But as important as the lessons they taught us were, they themselves were pretty memorable.  I have heard from those who chose larger schools, be they public or private, about how impersonal and distant the professors were, so I'm grateful for that too.  In the event that any of you somehow stumble across this, thanks.

That being said, here's something for the rest of you - what made your college experience memorable?  Was it friends, teachers, athletics, or something else?  I always appreciate comments!

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