After a successful Alumni Weekend and 144 more grads soon to be officially joining the SMUS alumni family, it seems like the perfect time to celebrate the ties that bind this diverse community.
It was a rainy night in New York, we had officially wrapped our 2019 alumni reception, and three alumni grads from the classes of 1988, 2005 and 2017, invited me to join them at a bar close by. Not being one who turns down an opportunity to visit with our alumni, I said “yes.” En route, I learned that the three of them had just met that evening, and that all of them had found their way to NYC following university. Two are working in finance and the third is a corporate lawyer.
As we settled in to enjoy our night cap I asked them each three questions: “How would you describe your SMUS experience? Where did your life lead after graduation? As educators and staff at SMUS, what could we have done differently?” Each alumnus described the deep impact their rugby and rowing coaches had on them. They believed that these coaches gave them tools on how to handle disappointment, rejection and success. They expressed the value of discipline and structure that they learned at our school. Being day students, they shared stories of strong friendships with boarding students and the connections they made internationally. They discussed the importance of their university counselling experiences and shared their successes at Columbia and Harvard. Each of them reminiscing about hanging out on top of Mount Tolmie, rugby tours, rowing regattas, exams and university applications. What came through most was their shared sense of gratitude to SMUS. In their own words they each said: “I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for SMUS.”
Toward the end of the evening, we discussed giving back and making SMUS possible for current and future SMUS students. They all offered to support Financial Aid and endowment this year, and one gift especially struck me: “I will give the school $1,000 from my first pay cheque at McKinsey this summer to help you reach the Financial Aid goal.” Grad of 2017.
I as well feel a deep sense of gratitude to our school, for the stories shared by our alumni, the philanthropic support of our community members, and most of all the impact our school has on the lives of its students. I am reminded of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”