Friday, March 15, 2013

St. Mary's College Part 3

St. Mary's was a small, liberal arts college, there were only about 800 students living on campus in 4 dorms.  My largest classes came during my freshman and sophomore years when I was enrolled in my required survey classes such as math and psychology.  The rest of my classes averaged around 15 to 20 students.  The small class sizes made it difficult to hide out in the back, meaning even if I didn't accomplish all the required reading for class I usually did enough to sound like I had.

As an English major it was easier to talk my way to an answer during a class discussion.  That didn't come as easily in Astronomy.  My professor, Dr. Weir, was famous for giving a quiz at the beginning of each class.  He knew it was the best way to keep his students on track.  He also enjoyed evening field trips so we could take part in some real-world learning.  Unfortunately, those evening trips often meant meeting up in a dark field on the edge of campus at midnight.  As if that wasn't enough he would ask that we come back an hour later, and an hour after that, to observe the changes in the night sky.  I can't say I liked the interruption in my sleep, or fun, schedule; but I sure did gain a better understanding what was happening in the sky.

Sailing was another thing.  It took a bit of practice but I eventually figured out how to tie most of the knots.  The classroom part of the course was easy enough; I learned the rules of the water and other lessons of general water safety.  And then came time for the class to move outside to the water.  After foolishly volunteering to demonstrate the proper way to rig up the sails, my sailing partner and I were pushed away from the dock and sent onto the river with the wind.  We lived to tell our tale but not before hitting a few other boats along the way.  I didn't sail much after that, I preferred to enjoy the serenity of the river while lounging in a canoe.

I finished up my four years at SMC with an independent study class.  Once a week I would walk the path up to Montgomery Hall and meet with my English professor to discuss the short stories of American writers.  For someone who rarely read every word they were assigned it was a risky move.  On any given day I had the ability to be the best in the class or not.  

Once again, I stepped out of my comfort zone and survived.

Graduation came all too soon for me.  In May of 1984 I packed up my things and headed back home without a clue as to where I was going next.


  1. Your piece today makes me miss college. I loved hearing about all the things you experienced and ways you stepped out of your comfort zone. Isn't college the best place to do that?