Remembering My College During Graduation Season

12 May

 

Walking through the balloon arch at Drew University graduation. This was in 2008.

Walking through the balloon arch at Drew University graduation. This was in 2008.

With the May graduation season, I always think of my own graduation. I graduated from college 37 years ago… I find that a bit frightening to admit. But it is true. I still remember the green and yellow balloons (In 1982 the colors turned to blue and green) that we walked under on our way to our seats. I still remember my excitement at graduating magna cum laude. I still remember that my grandparents and parents came to my graduation!

I loved my time at Drew University. It was the best place for me. A small liberal arts school, Drew is situated on the most beautiful campus. Large trees, quiet paths, lovely buildings, great professors all in one place, with easy access to New York City and an easy train ride home. I learned; I made friends; I found my place in life at Drew.

As an English major I had two professors in particular that had a major influence on me. Professor Joan Steiner and Professor Robert Chapman were my inspirations and both added much to my love of words.

Not only did I take Professor Chapman’s classes on literature, I also took classes on semantics and I was his paid assistant one year. He was working on revising his Dictionary of American Slang, and I helped. Dr. Chapman was well known for his dictionaries and thesaurus. He loved words and language. His excitement about words encouraged my love of language and words!

For the second edition of the Dictionary of American Slang, we had to find three references for each new word for it to be included in the dictionary. Each word was put on an index card…. no computers in those days. If we found a new word in a printed reference, we started a card with the referenced article. I had to do a lot of reading of popular publications: newspapers and magazines.

My biggest achievement was the word “carpool.” I will never forget the moment I found my third reference in Newsweek magazine. I was visiting my parents for the weekend. While reading my Dad’s Newsweek, I found it. I was beyond excited.

“Dad,” I said. “Read this page now. I have to take it back to school with me.” He didn’t even argue when I ripped the page from the magazine.

I remember racing to Prof. Chapman’s office in the Browne Hall with the page from the magazine in my hand on Monday. That was it. The word could now be added to the files for the second edition of the dictionary.   I then helped with writing the official definition of the word. I walked on air for days after that. The two of us were so excited. Carpool was officially a new word!

I know it sounds strange now. Carpool is such a common word. People use it all the time. Mothers and fathers plan carpools with friends in order to take their children to school and sports and afterschool activities. Co-workers organize carpools to work. But in the early 1970s it was a new word. And I helped define it for the dictionary.

I cannot remember the other words I helped uncover that year. It is the word carpool that forever stays in my memory. I get a moment of joy whenever I see the word in print or hear it used. “Carpool” is my word! And yes, carpooling is also my word!

Most important for me, however, was that Professor Chapman encouraged my love of words and added to my interest in language. His discussions on the leveling of language and how languages change stayed with me throughout my time in college, graduate school and in life.

Besides Professor Chapman’s support, I had the support of my advisor and mentor, Professor Joan Steiner. It was her encouragement throughout college that led me to become an English major. I had started my college career focusing on studying psychology. But after my first few literature classes, I realized that my love of literature was more important.

Joan Steiner and me graduation

With Joan Steiner as my advisor, I was able to focus on English during my last two years at Drew. But more important, she help me find what I really wanted to be, which was a writer. And with her help, I focused on journalism as a career and went on to earn my master’s degree in journalism.   I kept in touch with Professor Steiner for many years. Since I live in Kansas, our contacts were usually holiday greeting letters. But once my daughter also went to Drew for her undergraduate years, Professor Steiner and I had a bit more contact.

I miss her wonderful letters. And I feel blessed that she was part of my college life and that we had contact later in my life.

I so loved my time at Drew that when my daughter was a sophomore in high school, I took her to see the campus during one of our annual visits to my parents in New Jersey.   She fell in love with the campus as well. But not only the campus, the focus on political science and religion was important to her. (A Methodist seminary school is also situated on the Drew Campus.) When it was time to make her college choice, she chose Drew.

I am proud that my daughter graduated Drew 31 years after I did. She received her double major in Political Science and Religion. She participated in the semester at the United Nations through Drew and participated in many activities, although she did not follow my major and goals in college. I worked on the newspaper, the yearbook and was a member of the OC (Orientation Committee). She focused on political science organizations, mediation and policy. She even interned at the County Courthouse working with domestic abuse victims. But she walked the steps I walked and loved the school as much as I did.

Her graduation also included the blue and green balloon archway that led to the outside graduation behind Mead Hall. And she, also, graduated magna cum laude, wearing the cords from two honor societies. We did not have those when I graduated from Drew.

My parents were once again there, as was my entire family: siblings and their spouses, and all the cousins. My daughter, as the oldest grandchild, was the first to graduate college. And since my entire family lived in New Jersey, it seemed important that all be at her graduation.   Afterwards we had lunch with her then boyfriend’s family and friends. It was a wonderful celebration.

I love graduation. I love the transition to another stage of life. But for my daughter and I, I am so glad that we were able to experience college life at Drew. And share a graduation experience 31 years apart.

 

To see the beautiful campus go to : http://www.drew.edu/

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Remembering My College During Graduation Season”

  1. Charles E. Stuart September 5, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Nice recollection. Drew was a special place in my education as well. ’77 CLA.

    • zicharon September 5, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      Thank you. A great campus and place to learn.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: