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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Alma Mater Love

This past week I have been really overcome with love of my alma mater-- DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.

I've given 6 interviews this week. Most of them asked "What gave you this sense of global responsibility?" I thought about it and gave the same response "My parents and my university, who both pushed me to get our and see the world and how others lived."

But then, on Wednesday night, as I was leaving my late class in lonely downtown San Francisco (I still haven't made many friends at my new school yet,) I saw something that warmed my heart more than I expected it to. I saw my friend, a homeless man, in his usual stoop, huddled with his stuff, wearing a DePauw hoodie. (The classic one, black with bold gold fabric letters.) A DePauw grad, whoever he or she might be, had likely donated their sweatshirt somewhere, and it was now keeping my friend warm.

It hit me very hard, and tears welled up in my eyes. Amidst a city of strangers, I all of the sudden felt a sense of being home.

DePauw University is pretty cool like that.

DePauw shipped me off to Central America, and had me live in poverty with the families that have eventually become my own. It put me face to face with community members as we worked to build a town hall. It humbled me when both my tortilla and cement making ability was the mockery of an entire village. It taught me that just a few people can truly change the world.

DePauw showed me that you can do totally different things, like say, law and fashion, and make it work. (I was a philosophy and geology major, with Spanish and Chemistry minors.) DePauw showed me that there will always be adults that are hating, and trying to break you down for whatever reason. (Like Scott Wilkerson and Fred Soster.) But DePauw taught me that for every naysayer, there will be an inspiration, someone pushing you even farther, who never stops believing in your ideas and mission. (I will be forever indebted to you, Dr. Jeanne Pope and Dr. Jeff McCall/Chris Newton and Hazel/Pigg families.) So, I suppose what I am trying to say is that DePauw taught me about the real world. I face the same challenges now as I did then. I hear and sense the same haters, and I overcome the same obstacles in the same way-- a smile, a brain, and a little perseverance.

So here I am now, using what I learned in my two majors and two minors (and many extracurriculars) there and the social charm polished up at the Indiana Epsilon Chapter of Pi Beta Phi there and combining them to give back to communities that gave so much to me and a growing number of communities that could use a little boost.

In my recent successes, I have been fortunate enough to have received some press for my mission, my cause.

Who are the first people to reach out of nowhere and give me a few hearty pats on the back? DePauw graduates, of all decades. I have consistently received e-mails from my old professors and graduates I have never met saying, "Great work. You make us proud. Keep going." Its so awesome.

So, this is just a thank you note to DePauw, for making me much of what I am today. Thank you.


(Photos from my trip to Belize, where I asked my parents for the best birthday gift yet: paint for a cistern for the school we lived at that was saving and saving for paint for it.)

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