Hometown: Chico, CA
As a high school student from California, the idea that I’d end up attending a small college in the mountains seemed, for lack of a better word, insane. The plan was to attend a University of California school; I couldn’t have possibly foreseen the transformation that was soon to morph the very essence of who I am. I remember stumbling upon Fort Lewis College on the internet—the school seemed beautiful and friendly but a bit secluded and small, especially considering it wasn’t much larger than my high school. I didn’t think much of this odd college in Colorado until I sent the chair of the psychology department an email requesting some information, and instead of the typical flyers and anonymous handouts I received from the other universities, the chair of the department herself wrote me a personal email detailing the program. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. A Harvard educated Ph.D faculty member writing me a personal email? As time went on, I became more and more entranced with this obscure college out in Colorado. I remember being nearly obsessed with Fort Lewis, and my mom eventually agreed to drive up with me to explore this unique and engaging place. The second I set foot on campus, though, I knew my heart would forever be anchored here. Nearly everyone on campus smiled at me, various professors sat down and talked with me, and after wandering around campus nearly the entire day, there was no turning back. Fort Lewis offered me something that the University of California system simply could not. I could be a part of this community; I would belong here and attend classes where my professors would actually know me. As I reflect on who I am today and all I’ve experienced, I am confident I would not be the Alex Thompson I know had it not been for the top-class liberal arts education of Fort Lewis College. I have made friendships that will last a life time; I have been forced to challenge my own assumptions and beliefs, and have become a well-rounded person I may have never been had I spent my college days in oversized lecture halls taught exclusively by teaching assistants. Deciding where you want to go to college is one of the few times in your life where I truly believe that you get to decide how you wish to grow. For many students around the country, coming to a school like Fort Lewis College in Durango sounds scary, and believe me, it is. However, I can promise you one thing: few communities are as eager to foster growth, intellectual development, and friendship as keenly as Fort Lewis does. Come on by—it might just change your life.