Generations of Dartmouth
By Christina Wray, The Dartmouth Senior Staff
Published on Friday, May 25, 2012
I’ll never forget the first time someone told me, “I would never send my daughter to Dartmouth.” My jaw was on the floor. My freshman self couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be thrilled to have their child — male or female — attend the picturesque, utopian school I had made Dartmouth out to be. Halfway through my freshman fall, I was already hoping that my own children would attend Dartmouth one day, and I was shocked that someone else didn’t feel the same way.
These feelings may have something to do with the fact that I come from a family of Dartmouth women. My mom is a member of the Class of 1981, my sister a member of the Class of 2016. The first time someone told me, “I would never send my daughter to Dartmouth,” I had no idea my sister would ever be a student here. But my mom had sent her daughter to Dartmouth. Had she done so against her better judgment?
Somehow, I don’t think so. Despite the fact that only 25 percent of my mom’s class was female, she had a fantastic experience at Dartmouth. Like me, my mom was pre-med. Her favorite places to study were Sanborn Library and the Tower Room. Every Saturday morning, she and her friends would go for brunch at Lou’s. Unsatisfied with the limited options at the time, she and several friends founded a new sorority that exists to this very day, albeit with a different name. Needless to say, things weren’t always so great — during sophomore summer, my mom spent a week bedridden with strep throat in her Topliff single without air conditioning.
Dartmouth was not always easy for her, but ultimately that was the greatest advantage she derived from it. She always says that the numerous challenges she faced here made her a stronger, more independent and more caring woman than she otherwise would have been.
I’m extremely fortunate that come June 10, I’ll be able to say the same. Since my freshman fall, people have told me over and over again that they would never send their daughters to Dartmouth. Ironically, most of these people have been men, though many women wholeheartedly agree. People say that Dartmouth is a male-dominated environment and that Dartmouth can be tough on women. After four years here, I would say that these things are absolutely true.
When I look back on my time at Dartmouth, I can guarantee I’ll remember snowboarding trips to Killington every winter, Euro-tripping with my best friends junior fall and what it felt like to finish my thesis just last week. I can only hope that I will also remember how stressed I was during my first all-nighter. I hope I remember the humiliation I felt when I had beer poured on me in a basement during my freshman year. I hope I remember the regret I felt when I learned that one of my good friends from high school passed away suddenly after we hadn’t spoken for six months.
Recently, after a particularly rough night compounded by thesis stress and impending fears of graduation, I began to beat myself up for encouraging my sister to choose Dartmouth. I couldn’t bear the thought of her ever feeling as miserable as I felt in that particular moment. But since then, I’ve realized that my sister will be in for a tough four years regardless of what school she attends. I’ve also realized that the challenges she’ll face at Dartmouth will hopefully do the same thing they’ve done both for my mom and for me. I hope that after four years at Dartmouth, my sister will graduate as a self-assured, intellectually curious and empathetic woman.
I hope that Dartmouth will ultimately make her a better person for the challenges she will have faced as I believe it has done for me. I’m not going to pretend that my challenges have been anything like what some of my peers have faced over the last four years, but I also won’t pretend that they’ve been easy. My point is that Dartmouth can be difficult on anyone, male or female. On the other hand, I’m constantly inspired by all of the students who are continually striving to make Dartmouth a better place. Sometimes I ask myself: If nobody plans to send their daughter to Dartmouth, who will help make Dartmouth a better place for other people’s daughters?
I think that it’s true that you learn more from the bad times than from the good times. I am infinitely grateful that these last four years haven’t been perfect. They’ve been perfect enough. And if my son or daughter ultimately wants to attend Dartmouth, I definitely won’t try to talk them out of it.
Christina is the former editor of The Dartmouth Mirror.