May 19, 2011

SRJC Ya Later

Filed under: Memory Eternal — Ann @ 6:29 pm

A Photo Opp Waiting to Happen

I’m exceedingly pleased that the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat published the Close to Home piece that I recently submitted for publication, in which I express my gratitude for my time at our local community college. What follows is the article in its entirety.~Ann

GUEST OPINION: A bittersweet farewell to SRJC


Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 6:26 p.m.

“Good parents give their children roots and wings. Roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what’s been taught them.”

— Jonas Salk

On Wednesday, I walked away from the Santa Rosa Junior College campus for the last time, ending an almost 20-year relationship with that institution. I’m already missing the school I fell in love with from the first time I laid brains on it, in August of 1992. But it’s time to move on, time to “exercise what’s been taught” to me there.

In the early 1990s, my husband, Neal, and I moved into a cottage two blocks west of SRJC. I had long harbored dreams of a college degree so I enrolled in Psych 1A and was instantly hooked not just on the subject matter but on the entire SRJC experience. I was charmed by everything about it, from its oak leaf logo to its lush tree-rich grounds to its quality professors and high standing in the academic community.

After successful completion of the Psych 1A class, I kept going. The next semester I took 13 units, which included another psych class, stellar astronomy and pre-algebra. The late Jerry Waxman was my astronomy professor, and he coaxed from me a previously unrecognized awe for the magnificence of the natural world and cultivated in me latent, surprising skills: I never imagined that my math-challenged brain could triangulate the distance to a star.

I have specific and wonder-filled memories of practically every corner of the campus and every moment of my experiences there. Both my personal world and the larger world have transformed during my tenure there.

It was at the phone booth in front of Plover Hall in 1993 — then the library — when I discovered that my son’s wife was in labor. And in the spring of 1995, when I had to give an informational speech, I chose “the Internet” as my topic. It was so new then that I was one of the few JC students with a modem. My visual aids were posterboards explaining domain extensions such as “dot gov” and “dot edu” and predicting that “within five years the majority of households in America would have a modem in their homes.” Now, of course, we’ve essentially outgrown modems and most students are connected online, wireless or otherwise.

The highlight, however, was my May 1996 graduation where, as a valedictorian, I stood under a canopy of oaks on a hot May morning, quoting from Robert Anton Wilson’s essay “Ten Reasons to Get Out of Bed in the Morning” and telling my classmates how critically they are needed. I truly felt like a child of the college, wanting to honor my “parent” by doing her proud.

I was away from the college for a few years, but in 2007 I returned to add some general education classes for my bachelor’s degree and two psychology prerequisites I needed for my desired graduate program. Now I’m finishing a social psychology course at the JC, I’ve been accepted into the graduate program, and in August, I’ll be going back to my other beloved alma mater, Sonoma State University, as a graduate student. But being forever finished with SRJC is bittersweet indeed.

“Alma mater” is Latin for “nourishing mother,” and SRJC has indeed served as my educational progenitor — my starter school, my training wheels, the “parent” institution that gave me roots and wings. I leave forever changed and eternally grateful.

Ann Clark is a Sonoma resident.

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