Thank you Dickinson


Ladner and his teammates. Photo courtesy of George Ladner

George Ladner '21, Guest Writer

When asked by a soccer recruit why I chose Dickinson, my perspective as a freshman would have been completely different to my response now as a senior. As a freshman I understood that Dickinson was a small pond, and if you worked hard you could become the big fish. As a senior, I have come to the conclusion that if you trust and dedicate yourself to the college, its boundless resources will shape you into a better person and your four years will be filled with immeasurable achievements.

Since September 9, 1783 Dickinson College, located in the small town of Carlisle Pennsylvania, has thrived as a leading liberal arts institution. The story of Dickinson is not perfect, and like most things in life, can be improved. In the challenging times we live in where it can be tempting to fall back on negativity, I suggest that you lift your head above the noise and examine the ways in which this college has bettered students for centuries. To understand the power of Dickinson, let’s start with the employees that do not have the title of Professor.

Upon entering the cafeteria, the welcoming body language and pleasant conversation initiated by the employees that swipe ID cards puts students immediately at ease. It is never a surprise to see classmates pull up a chair and speak to these important personnel. The staff serving food, very often, address students by their first names and will ask about classes and tests or what’s new with their family. This genuine interest in the students, and their well-being, is truly inspiring.

Leaving the cafeteria you will approach a crossing guard that must have been hired solely because of their friendliness. On their feet all day, in any and all weather conditions, these guards demonstrate selfless commitment to students. From asking us about our day to instilling motivation and simple life lessons into the ears of the cross-walkers, these employees make an impact on the Dickinson community that far outweighs their title. This sense of recognition and thoughtfulness is not just seen in the crossing guards, but in athletic trainers, coaches, librarians and an overwhelming majority of employees.

On the way to class there are constant smiles, handshakes, and waves exchanged with peers and professors. Students are engaged with each other and feel at home. The professors that you see in class and around campus are the backbone of the college. In class they set specific office hours in their syllabus, but these are far from concrete. They are accommodating of our schedules and flexible when necessary. We are challenged academically, but in a manner that encourages learning. I have had meals with my Professors in town and shared countless laughs in and out of the classroom. 

I often see President Ensign and Dean Stroud at sports games, ceremonies, and vital meetings. The leaders of the college demonstrate approachability and a willingness to listen to students, with the intent of bettering campus life.

At Dickinson you are part of a group of people so much greater than yourself. While the buildings and beauty of the campus will always remain, it is the constant influx of exceptional students that make this place extraordinary. Those who have walked up and down the steps of Old West, and before departing, proudly stomped on the Dickinson seal are part of this honored group. There is no secret to Dickinson’s strength in alumni. Family, friendships, and jobs all result from the alumni network, which is accredited to the sense of belonging to the college.

It is possible, and certainly easier than many other colleges for students to become big fish in the small pond of Dickinson. That is due to the true sense of community, plentiful resources available to students, and servant leadership from the top that demonstrates genuine care for every single student. It may not be your objective to take advantage of all Dickinson offers. That is fine. The pond of Dickinson embraces all and weaves everyone’s personalities into the Red Devil community. However, those that dedicate and commit themselves to the college will have success as a student during their four-year stay, and as proud Dickinsonians wherever life may take them.