The Colgate Scene
March 2006

Spirited, gregarious, curious, bright

Our Class of 2009, 729 strong, was from the largest applicant pool in Colgate's history — 8,008 prospective students representing 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 116 countries. Those wh were admitted had an average GPA of 3.69 and an average combined SAT of 1389. It is a distinctive group.

"I knew from the moment I greeted them on August 25 that the Class of '09 would be spirited, gregarious, curious, and very bright. They have certainly lived up to my initial impression," said Beverly Low, dean of first-year students. "This class is full of individuals with varied personal experiences and hidden talents. It seems to be a more artistic class overall, with higher numbers auditioning for spots in theater and music groups and more interest in the humanities. The class can also boast a crop of stellar student-athletes who have earned higher combined GPAs."

Essays they submit in their applications go a long way to show the fascinating students who come to Colgate. Let's meet just a few, and learn a bit about their first-semester experiences here.

[Photos by Timothy D. Sofranko]

Mabel Haro
Nine years ago, when I was leaving Ecuador, my grandmother gave me a doll. It symbolized to me everything I was leaving behind. As much as I wanted to play with my new toy, I decided to keep her inside her container so she would remain untainted forever. The clothing laced with gold lining and colorful beaded accessories made her stand out. Her beauty still captures me, not because I have not seen greater things, but because she has history and symbolizes hope.

It is often difficult to keep one's culture when most of the time is spent trying to fit in. Assimilation was my goal when I first arrived in the United States. Today, I no longer yearn for assimilation, but desire to share my differences and culture. This doll is representative of the indigenous people of Ecuador. Her light brown skin, long black hair, traditional clothing, and jewelry capture the culture of my country. She is a reminder of my background, of how lucky I am to be where I am now, to have the privilege of just thinking about a brighter and more prosperous future and having the opportunity of achieving it.

When I left Ecuador, I named my doll Esperanza, a name which means hope. All I felt was the desire to make something great of myself. I want to bring her with me wherever I go, because I do not want to forget who I used to be and who I long to be.

Hometown: Melbourne, N.J.; born in Quito, Ecuador

Campus residence: West Stillman

Activities: Club volleyball, Kuumba, Latin American Dancers, bellydancing club, Sister to Sister

Best class: Chinese with Professor Gloria Bien. It was amazing to me that by the end of the semester I was able to read the characters.

Best book: The Iliad, for Western Traditions. There's so much imagery, it was interesting to analyze.

My proudest accomplishment here: Getting through my OUS classes over the summer. Malleability of the Mind and Intro to Writing were intense.

Favorite pastime: In the afternoon before dinner, I run on the treadmill at the gym.

Item I can't leave my room without: My phone. I don't like to wear a watch.

Favorite professor: Lynette Stephenson, for my first-year seminar Practice and Theory, which was an art class. You could talk to her easily, and we were creating art the whole time.

Dan Lathrop
As I embark upon my college experience, there are many items I deem important. I pack clothes, books, a computer, and a toothbrush, but the only item I declare a necessity is my swim goggles. These goggles are my window to the world, as well as my shield to keep unwanted things out. Whenever I am working on a tough assignment or before an exam, I set aside time to be in the water. It is there that my thought process becomes clear and my mind is free of all its worries. The time spent swimming laps helps me perform at my best in all of my academic endeavors.

I have learned both discipline and self-motivation through my swim goggles. When I sprint into the last lap of a 100-yard race, my field of vision is narrowing; my lungs feel as though they are collapsing, and my arms are barely pushing me forward. I am at my best. I know that if I can just endure more of the pain than the man next to me, I will win the race. It is the same in academics. If I can just spend 15 more minutes studying the bones of the skull or complete one more complex calculus equation, I can triumph on that field as well. Whether it be teaching valuable life lessons, or just keeping the water out of my eyes, my swim goggles will be the most important item in my luggage on my way to Colgate.

Hometown: Westerly, R.I.

Campus residence: Center Stillman

Activities: Varsity swim team (I'm a sprint freestyler.)

Favorite class: Intro to Economics. It all just made sense and I got a lot out of it. I really enjoyed the teacher, Bruno Viani.

Best book: Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon Wood, for my history class with Andy Robertson. We had quite a bit of debate about it in class.

Ideal study spot: Back of the Coop. I put on headphones with classical music like Mozart. I can zone in and do as much work as possible in a sitting.

Favorite pastime: My friends and I will sit in Frank Dining Hall on a Friday afternoon for hours, talking about everything from politics to what people are doing for the weekend.

What I like best about Colgate: The atmosphere. You run into new people, but they're never complete strangers. There's always a connection.

Devin Casey
My ballroom dance shoes say a lot about me as a person, and ballroom dancing is something I would like to continue in college. Whenever people walk into my room they would see my shoes and ask me what they are. Some guys might change the subject, especially if some guy friends are asking them that question, but I tell everyone I know that I take ballroom dance. Telling everyone works out great, because some guys end up becoming interested, and just about all of the girls do. Girls generally will ask me to teach them a Latin dance or if I will dance with them at school dances.

See, I love ballroom dancing and have been dancing for five years. Even though I do a lot of school sports and other activities, it is nice to get away from all of that and do something that's just for me. I like to dress up a little and relax on a school night by learning some new steps or going over a routine in my favorite dance, the tango.

Having my dance shoes is what makes me different from a lot of people, but it is also one of the ways I reach out to friends both new and old. I can reach out to them because not many people, especially men, ballroom dance any more, and it is something they might never try or have a chance to if they were never asked. Dancing is something people can do in a group to have fun on weekends, no matter what their skill level is. Though I don't live and breathe dancing, I do enjoy it and find that lots of other people enjoy a ballroom dance session every once in a while.

Hometown: Hartford, Conn.

Campus residence: Curtis Hall

Activities: Charred Goosebeak, pick-up hockey, outdoor activities, theater

Favorite class: Scientific Perspectives: Space and Time with Professor Shimon Malin.

Best book: The Plague by Camus, for The Challenge of Modernity.

Ideal study spot: The "study bubble" in Curtis. It's like an isolation chamber.

Must-learn Colgate lingo: Our first night on campus someone said, "I hear Slices is the place to go." We couldn't find it because there's no place called Slices!

What I like best about Colgate: It's pleasant to be around a lot of good people. Everyone stays on campus on the weekends, and there's a lot to do.

Item I can't leave my room without: A hat. I cut my long hair off over break. First I wore it to keep it back. Now I wear it because my head's cold!

Can I ballroom dance on campus? Not officially. But I'll dance wherever there are people -- at the Palace, Creative Arts House parties, in people's rooms, in hallways.

Jaleith Gary
I rose from my seat and stood in front of a large crowd of people. I was eight years old and feeling quite nervous, as my lungs were not working properly. All I knew was that I was scared of what might happen now and later while I was standing there. I looked over the heads of the student body, faculty, and parents with fear. The familiar faces could not comfort me. The smiles could not muster up one of my own.

The words came out of my mouth as though I had been saying them incessantly all of my life, in spite of my fear. The radiant red that covered the floors, pews, and even parts of the altar blinded me and I began to forget where I was. Everything became a large blur of colored specks. I could barely hear the piano, but it was fine because the notes just used my voice as a medium. It wasn't the other way around. I was not in control, but wait -- there was hope. I could make out the faces of my friends. As I began to hear the music again I realized that I was still singing and nobody else was talking. "Power," I silently thought. Everyone was silent and attentively listening to the words I sang. I was in control, I thought, as I began to improvise and ornament the song I sang. My choir director glared at me, but it was not an angry glare; rather, he looked surprised. The next thing I knew, I sang a high note and everyone's eyes lit up in amazement. I later found out that they couldn't believe a little person could make such a big noise.

That was the first time I sang a solo, and people liked it. The best part of it all was that I liked to perform. I loved doing it. If I could, I would go back in time to relive that one moment just to feel all those emotions again. I had no way of knowing that music would become a large part of my life. I could not wait to perform for such a big audience again. As a third grader, I loved the sense of approval I received from my director and the way the older kids accepted me for the "little-bit" that I was.

When I think back on it now, I notice the way I began to lay bricks to create a path for myself, a path of ambition and accomplishment. Anything that I reach for I can attain if I try hard enough. If I had not experienced the fear of that childhood performance I would have neither broken out of my shell nor have done anything to my full potential. As a result of having done so, I am a more confident and capable young woman. Going to boarding school was a goal that some people thought that I would not accomplish, but I did because I knew that I could do anything that I put my mind to. I am now a senior at Chatham Hall and ready to embark on a new journey beyond the beautiful campus outside of my window due to the fear that I conquered during my first performance.

Hometown: Farmington, Conn.

Campus residence: Gate House.

Activities: Resolutions, GATE 101, Gate House Community Council, Leadership Options For Tomorrow, Sister to Sister educational officer, We Funk, Spanish Club, student leadership team, catering service job

Favorite class: Spanish Language and Literature. My teacher, Pilar Mejia Barrera, was amazing. It was learn by experience. We did skits, and I taught elementary students at Hamilton Central.

What I like best here: I love Colgate so much, I can't pick one thing. I even came back early from break to help with Real World.

Best place to study: Frank Dining Hall. During exam week they put out hot chocolate and little cookies to keep you going when you're studying late.

Role model: My brother Jamal. He nurtured my passion for music.

Item I can't leave my room without: My iPod. Gotta have music!

Personal attribute: I will always introduce myself to someone I don't know. I make a lot of friends that way.

Marguerite Burkham
Shoes tell stories; they state where they've gone, what loads they've carried, the pace of their lives. Everyone's shoes fit their personality: the sneaker-wearer is very different from the girl who sports black stilettos. Though I prefer to switch shoe style often, at heart I am a sweat-stained, worn-out brown leather cowboy boot girl. They represent my heritage and my interests and my self; my character shines through the (now-mended) hole in the left one's sole. These boots are hard-soled truths of who I am; careworn individuals, these boots could be the most important objects that I would bring to Colgate.

Though the majority of my childhood was spent in the city, my time in the Missouri countryside developed the groundwork of my spirit. Hiking or riding horseback for miles every day, here I uncovered an intrinsic connection with the wilderness. Our family farm imprinted in me the admiration of nature, and my cowboy boots accompanied me every step of the way. They have been used in the ways they were crafted to be used; even now, as they stand inert on my closet floor, there is straw wedged between the sole and the leather upper, and a sycamore leaf is still plastered to the heel: a remnant of my last visit. Dusty, mud-encrusted jems, these boots know and represent the girl that grew up in the wild backwoods of Missouri. The spirit in their scuffs and scrapes is the spirit in my blood; wherever I'm going next, these boots are coming with me.

Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri

Campus residence: Gate House

Activities: Blogger for, Colgate Activities Board music and publicity, Cooking Club, Equestrian Club, Hamilton Outdoor Group, Run Club

Best class: My first-year seminar, Ultimate Things and the Literary Mind. I really improved my literary and reasoning skills, and my ability to criticize various works.

Favorite book: For Ultimate Things, we read Jesus' Son: Stories by Denis Johnson. Not something you'd pick up for fun, but I really liked the style.

New obsession: Tea. I brought back a bunch from winter break. This morning I had a cup of red rooibos chai.

Items I can't leave my room without: My Thermos -- for either coffee or tea -- and a little container of red pepper. It really perks up a meal at Frank.

Best thing about Colgate: I can't put a finger on one person I wouldn't have wanted to meet. The interests of our student body are so diverse; everyone has their own perspective.

Matthew La Tronica
I wiped the grease off my hands as I walked back into the garage. After placing the tools in their appropriate drawers, I returned to the driveway. I had finished the work on my truck. Well, I had finished for today. Something this important couldn't be finished in a day, or even a year. I could be working on this truck for a long time. When my dad and I first started on the Jeep, I didn't know how much I would learn. I wanted it to be perfect. It taught me the exact opposite, though; things that truly matter are never perfect.

The truck was hardly parked in the driveway before my dad and I were surfing the Internet, looking for ways to customize our new toy. A lift kit was ordered, and within a week it arrived. Along with it came a new intake, exhaust, and set of headers. I had the beast purring as it idled, and I listened to it growl as it accelerated down the street. Over time, we added little things to enhance its performance. A power chip, throttle body spacer, and new gear ratio gave it all the power a person could want. In the beginning, I assumed this car would one day be finished. How could I have known it would not be? Life had been so simple up to this point; each event always had a beginning and end. A school project, a paper, a test -- all can be finished and turned into the teacher. My dad never asked for a final version, though; he just worked alongside me as I labored at my first endless task.

Now, standing here looking at what I have done, I say to myself, "Not finished yet." Working on this Jeep changed my life. Everything else I do can be appraised, assigned a value, and compared to everyone else in the world. This truck is something else. I can work hard or I can work poorly; I only have to answer to myself. I grin as I work now, because I know I can't be wrong. The freedom that came with this Jeep is something that I will always have. In the end, the little things that provide that freedom are what make life worth living.

Hometown: Woodbridge, Conn.

Campus residence: West Hall

Activity: Cheer team

Favorite professor: Randy Fuller, for biology. He's enthusiastic about everything -- even black fly larvae!

Best book: The Lambing Flat by Nerida Newton for Of Landscape and Longing. It was about how the lives of an Australian farm girl and an orphan from China crossed. I read the whole book in one sitting.

Favorite study spot: When it's warm, I'll sit on a bench in the academic quad all day and read. People sit next to you and you don't have to talk.

Role model: My father. He has a really strong work ethic.

What I like best about Colgate: The people. From the first day, everyone was so nice and wanted to get to know you. I also like that everything interlaces. I'm planning a neuroscience major; the classes I'm taking now will affect what I take later. It's a good feeling; I don't like to be idle, and it's not hard to stay busy here.

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