Alison Guthrie

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My story begins just before my entrance to Lawrence University through handwritten letters received from local Alumni and current students. The letters inspired me to eagerly anticipate my first year as a Freshman at Lawrence. I suspect much of my story is not entirely different from many Lawrentians in this regard. Upon arrival, I was excited about the many experiences I‘d have at the Conservatory, new students I’d meet and my beautiful dorm room with a view of the Fox River from Trever Hall. My story begins here and continues to the present moment. It is impossible for me to separate the gifts and challenges experienced at Lawrence from my life many years later. The benefit of hindsight has brought forth the realization of how Lawrence will have a lifetime impact on me. The landscape of my experience is very broad. My memory entails the natural beauty of the Lawrence campus. Fall leaves and their spectacular colors come to mind as school began in September. Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was to experience such beauty daily as I walked to various buildings on campus grounds. In addition, my varied experiences with some students and faculty and even the City of Appleton left me feeling isolated, undervalued and lonely during my stay at Lawrence. African American students at that time were not always welcomed in our community. Still, there were wonderful moments, which included forming a close friendship with a fellow Lawrentian, which remains today. The years from freshman year to senior year can include exponential personal growth and all of these experiences facilitated my transformation. On this broad canvas of Lawrence experiences, I include memories of life on campus through my diverse class choice selections, preparing and performing in recitals, friendships gained and lost. Having the pleasure of living in single dorm rooms, from Sophomore through my Senior year was an unexpected blessing through sheer luck! I can truly say that I explored many of the experiences Lawrence offered me. Apart from the usual staples like Conkey’s book store, parties in the “Quad” and visits to the union, there were those extraordinary events. Convocations, which included talks by the late Colleen Dewhurst, political commentator George Will and others both challenged me and exposed me to different viewpoints. Finally, the many concerts, performed by well-known artists I attended in the Chapel left me in awe. Impactful memorable experiences were having attended a concert by The Pat Metheny Group, an event which I continue to cherish. Also, having taken an acting class during the year in which Lawrence hosted members of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre/Company as artists in residence, was mind-blowing and I am forever changed as a result of this experience. My education at Lawrence helped to refine my desire to look at the world holistically, to think in ways that challenge me but also allowed for personal growth. I feel very grateful for being able to adapt in what is now a rapidly changing world and for that I look back at Lawrence with fondness.