Students from Waterville discuss life on the Hill
It's no secret that students on Mayflower Hill hail from a variety of different places -45 states and 65 countries to be exact. Though students from the West Coast and numerous countries travel thousands of miles to get to the College, many students have a much shorter commute. Some, in fact, don't have to go anywhere at all-they call Waterville home.
Many students who grew up in Waterville were introduced to the College at an early age. Waterville native Alexandra McAuliff '13 visited and interacted with the College frequently.
For me growing up, Colby was always a wonderful place. When I was younger we always had Colby students babysit us after school," McAuliff said. "They would bring us up to see their dorms, play on campus or eat in the dining hall. In the summer we would go for walks in the arboretum and cross-country skiing in the winter. On weekends, I would come up to watch a basketball game with my dad," she said.
Jennifer Hale '13 also remembers visiting campus when she was younger. "I can remember coming to the annual Halloween Extravaganza for many years with my family and always admiring the Colby students on campus," she said.
While many students from Waterville have early memories of campus, not all of them planned on attending college on the Hill. College is often an opportunity to move away from one's hometown and experience a different part of the state, country or world, and McAuliff wanted to get out of Waterville.
"[At first], Colby was the last place I wanted to go to school. It was too close. I wanted something new. I knew too many people that worked here. I thought it would just be an extension of life in Waterville," she said.
In the end, however, McAuliff discovered that the College was the right place for her. "When I was comparing Colby to the other schools I had gotten into, I realized that having grown up in such close proximity to Colby and knowing Colby so well gave me some pretty high standards," she said. "The others-well, they just couldn't measure up," she said.
McAuliff is not the only student from Waterville whose college search made her realize that the right school for her had been right in front of her all along. "When I began to seriously consider looking at colleges, I realized how lucky I was to have such a spectacular school in my hometown," Hale said. "I knew if I attended Colby I would receive so many opportunities that I would not receive at another college or university."
Jennifer Nale '14 was drawn to the atmosphere of Mayflower Hill, and she also had family connections to the school. "My brother and sister had such great experiences here that I knew being close to home wouldn't be a problem. There is a sense of community at Colby that is unlike anything at any other college I visited," she said.
Once they came to the College, many students realized that going to school in their hometown had some definite advantages. "I know that if I ever need anything, my family is only five minutes away," Hale said.
"The best part about going to school in my hometown is that I have a pretty good idea of what's going on in town. I get all the perks of living at college, plus on the weekends I still have my mom [to help with] laundry," Devin Gibbs '14 said.
"Once in a while, my mom will call to see if I'm in my dorm and drop by with a fresh batch of cookies," McAuliff said. "It's also nice that my parents have been able to meet a lot of my friends."
Just because these students are from Waterville doesn't mean they aren't active members of the College community, however, as they all live on campus and are involved in numerous activities. Nale plays on the basketball team, Gibbs plays the saxophone in the jazz band and also runs track, Hale participates in numerous volunteer organizations and clubs on campus and McAuliff is on the tennis team and serves as a dorm president.
While relations between the College and Waterville are sometimes seen as rocky, the students from Waterville are happy with their decisions to go to school on Mayflower Hill. "I know for some people in Waterville, Colby students are thought of as rich, snobby and spoiled. However, a huge percentage of the community [do] realize the profound impact the campus and the students have on the town and fully appreciate everything Colby provides for Waterville," McAuliff said.
"My impression of the college was completely off," Gibbs admits. Colby has some of the best and kindest people in the world."
"As a Waterville native, I appreciate all of the opportunities that Colby has [given] Waterville. I am very proud to be a Colby student," Hale said.
Despite growing up with the College in their backyards, these students from Waterville still see Mayflower Hill as a very special place. "I've lived here my whole life and seeing Miller Library on a beautiful day is still breathtaking," Nale said.