Class of 1999
I’m a Hutchinson, MN native. But as a then-17 year old (in 1997), living on my own with little family support, I didn’t have a lot of options for college no matter how “promising” my high school teachers told me I was. I desperately wanted to go to college, but I couldn’t afford to move, support myself, and pay tuition. It was just out of the question. So, I turned to Ridgewater College. There, I got the start I needed. I was able to take my general education credits with an eye towards transferring, and I met teachers and professors who helped to guide me and mentor me for the future that I wanted. In fact, it was my History professor there, Dr. Grinde, who was the one who even took the steps to help get me into my undergraduate institution (The University of Wisconsin-Madison) by writing letters in support of my application and helping to prepare me for the transition to a large, State, school. I had told him earlier about how much I dreamed of becoming an anthropologist and maybe one day, a professor myself.
And I did.
Today, I have a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from Brandeis University and I am a member of the faculty in Anthropology at Wellesley College near Boston, Massachusetts. I also spent two years conducting research and fieldwork in Himalayan Nepal as a Fulbright Scholar for 2016-17 and have recently published my first book: “Shaligram Pilgrimage in the Nepal Himalayas” (AUP, 2020).
None of this would have been possible without my community college start. For first gen, poor, and marginalized students, places like Ridgewater College are not just one of the only options they might have for higher education, they’re one of the only doorways still open to the life we imagine.