Dolly and me outside of Gulliver’s Books in Fairbanks, Alaska. Summer 2007.
In the summer of 2004 I approached then-director of MALS, Roy Stein, about enrolling in the program. He asked when I intended to start and I said, “I’m thinking about the spring semester.” He paused for a moment and asked, “Why not the fall?” It was my turn to pause, and I thought, “Why not the fall?” I was enrolled at Nazareth within weeks, and began a journey that inspired me in the best of times, and guided me through the most difficult ones. The phrase “Why not?” has become a personal mantra, representing all that is possible if I just give it a shot, whatever “it” may be.
When I was finishing my MALS coursework in 2006, the big “it” was moving to Alaska with my fiancé (now husband) while he completed his graduate studies at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. By then current director Monica Weis was the program director, and my professor for my Capstone class. She, and my other professors, tried to soothe my fears about moving 4000 miles across the continent; they all encouraged me as my new adventure grew near. I left New York in January 2007, and for three years we hiked, skied, and explored the Alaskan wilderness—we even butchered a moose.
On one warm, summer afternoon in Fairbanks my husband and I were eating at our favorite pizza shop after a weekend in Denali National Park with friends visiting from New York. Everyone was still eating when I got the urge to check out the used book rack at Gulliver’s—my favorite bookstore, which shares a parking lot with the pizzeria. I was perusing the rolling cart of used books when I noticed someone standing across from me—someone very familiar. When she saw me staring she grinned back at me, and just then my husband and friends came up behind us. “I ... we ... she ...,” I stammered and stuttered, speechless, until finally the woman had to introduce herself. “Hi, I’m Dolly,” she said to my friends. “Christina and I went to graduate school together at Nazareth in Rochester.”
You see, with MALS your world doesn’t just get bigger—it gets smaller, too, and in all the best ways. Our summer newsletter is dedicated to the idea that a liberal arts education is about making connections: the big ones and the small ones, and all of the ones in between.
MALS graduate, December 2006