Oddly enough Oglethorpe found its way into my heart through my stomach. My time at OU has just been one big sugar rush. From the moment I set foot in the Schmidt center during my scholarship weekend, I have been on one amazing ride that has brought me closer together with my inner foodie. Despite being a commuter student- affectionately known as a Dormless Petrel- I have been able to stay connected with my friends during our bonding time spent at events such as Stomp the Lawn and Boars Head, both of which feature amazing delights! And the best part? I never gain a pound. Take that Freshman 15!
When I came to Oglethorpe I was sure I wanted to be a psychology major, even though math and creative writing were strong passions of mine. As part of the psychology requirement, I had to take statistics, and I decided to take it my very first semester. By the end of the semester I was smitten with math again; I knew then I also wanted to be a math major.
Not willing to compromise, I took on both. Although my advisor was in psychology, the math professors eagerly met with me to ensure I was hitting the proper milestones. When my capstone courses for each major were being planned, my professors spoke to each other to ensure that the classes wouldn’t be offered at the same time (my Time Turner was still broken from that crazy night junior year – don’t ask).
I still can’t pick my favorite, so I settled with pursuing a PhD that combines the two. After this, who knows? Oglethorpe taught me that learning never stops – maybe I’ll be a creative writer yet!
Moving from New York to Georgia several years ago, I faced difficulties, such as getting acclimated to different weather, finding new social groups, and being away from most of my family. Essentially, I experienced a significant readjustment in my life. After graduating from high school, I had the intent of returning to New York to start my undergraduate career. Something managed to keep me in Atlanta though, and I ended up attending Oglethorpe University to pursue my studies.
Everything started when I met up with an old friend and Oglethorpe alum, Evan Britton. It was through him that I first met anyone in Atlanta, as we attended the same high school. It was also through him that I first met brothers Harrison McConnell, Zachary Hamilton, Campbell Walker, and Matthew Tokajaer.
When I first hear the word “brother,” I think of my biological brother – the guy who I grew up with, the one who I looked up to, and the one who I’ve shared many memories with. As we get older, we’ll always have that connection, those memories, and much more. But, as we’ve gotten older, we’ve also grown apart in that he’s started new chapters in his life, just as I’ve started new ones in mine. One of my favorite chapters has been with my newfound brothers – the brothers of the Georgia Eta chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
One doesn’t usually get the chance to pick their brothers but in pledging SAE, I got to choose and be chosen to be part of a life long brotherhood. Attending rush events, receiving a bid for acceptance, learning about the history behind the fraternity, hosting social functions, going to national events, meeting brothers from different generations – it’s almost supernatural. As a senior, I reminisce upon all of these memories and it’s hard to compare this experience to anything else. The bond that I share with these guys exceeds those I’ve held in friendships and amongst teams, but I’ll try to explain in the simplest of ways. My OU Moment started when I joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
The name itself stands out to me, as a reminder of what it has been, what it is, and what it will always be to all of the brothers. Sigma, mathematically, represents the operator for summation, or sum of the total. In relation to my organization, SAE is the sum of everyone’s beliefs, thoughts, and memories that have carried over from generation to generation. Alpha, stemming from its Greek roots, is symbolic of importance and chief responsibility. Through respective social efforts, Sigma Alpha Epsilon members have gained prowess and set the tone as some of the most significant and influential leaders all over the world. And finally, there is epsilon. Epsilon, which was historically created to distinguish between two letters, can represent our individual unity. Every brother has a different background, separate family, and another life outside of the fraternity, but we can all come together as one on any occasion. I can only imagine what experiences I’ll share with the brothers as a fraternity alum, but I know that they’ll be nothing short of extraordinary.
I was having lunch with a friend that goes to a large state school and the following conversation happened:
“…..so I emailed the president and asked him if he knew.”
“You can email your school president?!?!”
“Yeah, of course!”
“Wow, I don’t even know my president’s name. But I think it’s Tom.”
(For the record, he was wrong. His president’s name is Robert.)
I truly believe in the cliche feeling you get when you visit college campuses, that feeling you get when you know that this is the campus I want to spend the next four years. I never heard of Oglethorpe prior to my senior year of high school. I spent some time in Suwanee Ga., at a basketball tournament. A friend of my father said I should look at the campus. After taking a driving tour of the beautiful campus, I immediately did my research on the school itself.
When I returned during my spring break of senior year, I knew that I wanted to be a petrel. I wanted to wear the black & gold.
I entered OU an a remarkable time, I think. Seeing such a change in diversity in the student body every year, seeing many programs and clubs created & watch them flourish. I think Oglethorpe gave me the opportunity to explore different things that I never could have imagined. I was able to see former President Jimmy Carter speak, meet with Bernice King, seeing Ted Turner speak, I was able to see the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra play had my own radio show…just to name a few.
I can tell you even with all the ups & downs I am always proud to say that I wear the black & gold. I have no problem saying I went to Oglethorpe University, a small liberal arts college in North Atlanta.
Ever since I stepped foot on Oglethorpe’s campus back in high school, I knew I would belong here someday. And when the time finally came for me to become a student here, I dove right into all Oglethorpe had to offer me: new friends, classes, a sorority, and clubs.
One of the new clubs I joined was OU Dancers. I had little dance experience, but they welcomed me onto the team anyway. After weeks of learning new jumps, turns, and people’s names, it was time to perform at the school’s homecoming basketball game. I was so nervous!
But when I stepped onto the court, I found it surprisingly easy to get into the zone. And when we hit the highlight of our routine and the crowd roared, I couldn’t help but smile.
I knew I had made the right choice by choosing Oglethorpe. I belong here.
Six states, six colleges, ten years – this was my life as a military wife. I was a stay at home mom of three young kids, determined to not let my husband’s unpredictable career deter me from reaching my goal of getting a college education. To say I was discouraged, however, would be an understatement. As we moved from state to state, I completed prerequisites for programs I wouldn’t get the chance to finish before we moved again, and I sometimes thought of just forgetting the whole idea. But I didn’t. I attended community colleges and an online program at a big university, but always felt dissatisfied about missing out on the traditional college experience. Then we moved to Atlanta and in my search for my next college, I discovered Oglethorpe’s Evening Degree Program. I was drawn to the fact that it was a flexible program for busy adults at a distinguished university. My first visit to campus for an open house in the Hearst Great Hall sealed the deal; I knew Oglethorpe was the right university to help me reach a goal I’d been pursuing for 10 years. Oglethorpe gave me more than a degree – it solidified my determination to roll with the punches and not let life’s speed bumps slow me down.
Debbie Aiken ’12
Assistant Director, University Communications, Oglethorpe University
*photo taken on commencement day, 2012.
Never have I felt more uninhibited and at home at Oglethorpe than one summer evening when my best friend and I played in the sprinklers at the baseball stadium. To this day, it is my favorite college memory.
–Janet Wood ’13, coordinator of academic programs, Academic Success Center, Oglethorpe University