Hometown: Chico, CA
The following essay is adapted from the speech Alex gave at Skyhawk Saturday on November 9, 2013.
Your presence today speaks for your willingness to accept change: change that will encapsulate both the highs and lows of your entrance into a very new world. This is a world of fun, challenge, laughter, stress, and most importantly, growth. Today you quell one of the most important decisions you will make as an adult, where you choose to attend college. While I can’t promise that Fort Lewis is the right decision for all of you, I can promise that this school can offer the tools for intellectual growth and resilience you will be hard-struck to find anywhere else; Fort Lewis is a place where you will simultaneously explore and find yourself.
As a high school senior from a fairly large city in California, the suggestion that I consider a mountain college not much larger than my high school seemed a bit preposterous. The plan for as long as I could remember was to attend the local college of over 30,000 students with the prestigious name…Fort What? No way! As I was convinced to explore Fort Lewis College more thoroughly, though, something resonated with me that I couldn’t quite describe at first. I gathered that there’s a sense of intimacy here; that students go to school here not just to go to class and collect a diploma after four years…that students grow here. That the very nature of Fort Lewis pleaded for community and friendship.
As the obscure college in Colorado more and more permeated my thoughts, I decided to take a tour of the other college I thought I was so settled on. The average class size for undergraduates was a cozy three hundred; students didn’t meet their actual professors until their junior year, at least; academics were all and personal growth superfluous. In a nervous flurry, my mother and I made the trip to Durango, and when we stepped on campus, I was taken aback not only by the beauty of the scenic La Plata region, but by the friendliness: nearly everyone I walked past smiled at me. When my mother and I got lost on campus, a faculty member personally greeted us and got us back on our feet. After becoming more and more entranced with the school as the day went on, I knew that I could not see myself going anywhere but here. Fort Lewis could offer me a level of personal growth and intellectual fulfillment that the California school simply could not. There was no other option. Fort Lewis College would forever beckon an opportunity I would find nowhere else.
As you explore Fort Lewis College today, several factors of the Fort Lewis experience will be obvious: our class sizes are incredibly small, you will never be taught by a TA, there are un-paralleled avenues for student engagement, and our academics are top-notch. While all of these are critical in defining Fort Lewis College’s level of quality, I would argue that there’s something about Fort Lewis that you can’t so easily codify. Fort Lewis College not only encourages but demands personal growth. The faculty challenge students to write papers that engage topics, not merely summarize them. You will meet people whose views drastically differ from your own. You will have some of the best times of your life, and occasional moments of stress equivalent to that of an episode of Breaking Bad. Every experience Fort Lewis has to offer catalyzes personal growth and our liberal arts education allows for levels of engagement and intellectual excitement you will have difficulty finding anywhere else.
With all of this, I know that had I chosen the school I was so set on originally, I would not have any semblance to the person I am today who is still growing and learning every day. I know that the college-decision process is a difficult one, but let me promise you that with everything you have at stake when choosing a school, it is hard to do much better than a school that is so keenly invested what should be most important, the you factor.