It feels so good to finally be posting on the Benton blog for my first time! Currently, I am sitting in a hotel lobby in Alexandria, VA with the snow falling outside (it tends to follow us Colgate kids) and reflecting on the first Benton spring break trip ever. The trip started out this morning with everyone showing up to the bus (on time!), making it through Syracuse Hancock Int’l Airport without too much trouble, and finally landing in Washington D.C. at Washington-Reagan Airport. With the usual stop for lunch and shopping, we headed out by Metro to Hannah O’Malley’s house for the most wonderful dinner and conversation getting to know each other.
Here’s a little bit more about the group. Altogether there are 12 of us traveling: three seniors (Marilyn Hernandez-Stopp, Saffiate Ba, and myself, Camille Solarte), eight freshmen (Hannah O’Malley, Taylor Mooney, Grace Western, Angela Jang, Laine Barrand, Mallory Keller, Allison Zengilowski, and Erin Huiting), and of course, our fearless (and very patient) leader, Peter Tschirhart.
Yes, you did read those names correctly, this trip is 100% girls (except for Peter), and it has truly been a wonderful experience for myself, especially knowing exactly how it was being a freshman and the amazing opportunity this trip presents. For the freshmen, this trip begins their Benton experience, and for the old seniors, who have eagerly awaited this trip as one last hurrah, this spring break trip provides a great opportunity to bond between class years. Marilyn, Saffiate, and myself, having experienced traveling in China with each other, know when to let each other plug in their headphones and sleep on the train or when to joke around and make each other laugh. These freshmen girls get a trial run at this with the short trip to D.C., and they will certainly be well-served when it comes to getting to South Korea in May. Traveling is certainly one of the quickest ways to get to know someone, and these eight are getting a great head start. Looking back, I have been so lucky to have formed these friendships on the first floor in West Hall in freshman year that have lasted through everything that college throws at you. Watching the freshmen girls today, I can definitely see these friendships developing and can only hope for a similar outcome as I have been lucky enough to have.
’14 Benton Scholars: Saffi, Camille, and Marilyn.
In addition to my “senior reflective moment” I want to take a minute to reflect on the Benton program itself. Coming into my freshman year, there were only three classes of Benton scholars, and the program was continuing to take shape and be molded into what it has become today. While there continue to be small tweaks and adjustments, the Benton Scholars program (with the great help of Peter Tschirhart) has really transformed into something I never thought I would be able to experience in my short four years as a Colgate undergraduate. I can only hope that this program continues to grow as I enter my phase as an alumnus of Colgate University and the Benton Program, but for now, I am going to enjoy my final Benton trip and create and savor friendships that have come as direct results of the amazing opportunities I have been afforded.
Thanks for reading and check back tomorrow for more updates!