Chapter 2: Where I Come From
[Editor’s Note: Amy Browender ’13, Kyle Ruedinger ’13, Elizabeth Brown ’13, and Jessie Lillis ’13 are writing alternating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]
On September 9th, the temperature in Minneapolis was hovering around 95 degrees, and it was close to 90 inside our school. It was the first day I was leading a session with my students, and before I had a chance to fully introduce myself and welcome them all, I was posed with a question:
“Where did you come from, Miss Amy? Did you go to the U of M?”
I’ve only been as nervous as I was that day a few other times in my life, and for whatever reason, their first question for me wasn’t exactly what I expected. Luckily, I’ve quickly grown comfortable with my students and my new role as their College Possible Coach. No one calls me Miss Amy anymore, but everyone knows what Ripon College is.
I was anxious about graduating because of the fact that I would no longer be in a traditional learning environment with lectures, essays, and class discussions. I should never have worried, because working with my students has proven to be just as interesting, enlightening, and fulfilling as my undergraduate education. I constantly learn new things from my students, and the time I spend with them in session every afternoon is undoubtedly the best part of my day. Each one of my students has a unique story and so much potential, but it’s their commitment to school, their dedication to College Possible, and their desire to attend college that has proven to be terribly inspiring.
One of my favorite parts about my new job is getting my students excited about how much fun college is, as well as sharing my personal experiences with them. Eating meals with professors, going on daylong visits to Chicago’s art museums, and getting to take a wide variety of courses isn’t necessarily something that every one of my students wants, but sharing the fact that I was able to do those things at Ripon encourages many of them to imagine the possibilities of undergraduate education.
While my daily conversations revolve around college, I hadn’t realized how much I actually missed Ripon until a few weeks ago. While attending a college fair with my students, I was lucky enough to see none other than John Ingemann ‘12, a fellow English major and Ripon’s admission counselor covering Minnesota. When I saw him speaking to other College Possible students with an open package of Rippin’ Good Cookies in front of him, my heart felt like it was going to burst. Although we didn’t have much time to talk, John did show me Ripon’s new promotional materials and presented me with my own package of cookies. I left that college fair missing my alma mater more than I had since graduation, but I also felt so much pride in the family that I became a part of four years ago.
Although I deal with a new set of challenges each day, I’ve found that my education at Ripon really prepared me for the work that I’m doing. I never took an education class, but the emphasis placed on participation, discussion-leading and public presentations in my courses has made the transition into leading a classroom feel more natural than I anticipated. I’ve gotten to edit student essays, which brings me straight back to my on-campus job at the Collaborative Learning Center, and I’ve even been able to discuss the writings of bell hooks, Hemingway, and Zora Neale Hurston during session (an English major’s dream!). I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to utilize the skills and knowledge I gained at Ripon on a daily basis, and I’m particularly excited to see how I build on those skills throughout the next few months. I expect that I’ll encounter some bumps within the next few weeks, but at this point, I feel equipped to handle whatever may come next.
Amy J. Browender ’13
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