Notes from Under the Oaks

"While in college, some professors and some fellow students come into our lives, and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave giant footprints in our minds and hearts, and we are never the same again."

I read this quote daily; it is posted on the bulletin board at my desk in the Abbott Alumni Center. It’s titled “Giant Footprints” and is quoted from alumnus Ambassador Shirley Abbott ’52, OD ’53.

Every time I read this quote, I feel nostalgic. Do people really leave our lives after college? Location I understand, people relocate for jobs all the time. Classmates may move to Maryland, Alaska or Japan and settle there but do they really leave us?

Now working at Pacific, I so frequently find myself daydreaming about my four years as a student. I smile and coyly giggle about memories when I see names of former classmates come across my desk. They never really left me. Memories are strange that way; they linger in our minds and hearts waiting to be noticed again.

Memories of lectures I wish I could sit in on again. Memories of the simplicity of dorm life and my naïveté. Memories made with roommates I barely talk to now. Memories with my senior thesis class preparing for Senior Projects Day all of whom are living around the Unites States while I sit in Trombley Square at lunch. These people won’t ever leave my heart because they shaped who I’ve become.

I sometimes wonder if I would be a different person if I had simply been placed in McCormick Hall instead of Walter my freshman year. I wonder if I would have still gotten to know my best friends if we didn’t live down the hall from each other. I wonder if my thesis would have been different if I took classes from Pauline Beard instead of Doyle Walls. I wonder if I would even have my job if I never received a work study award and worked in Alumni Relations as a student.

I believe there is something that doesn’t leave us. “Us” meaning you me, your lab partner, that classmate who sat across from you in Sociology 101 and the one who always left their clothes in the laundry room too long.

That something that doesn’t leave us, that giant footprint that stays with us, I think is that same very thing we have a hard time describing about Pacific. That Pacific “thing” will never leave us and we are never the same again.

What is that “thing” about Pacific? Similar to Boxer, some things we may never be able to fully describe.

If you want to take a shot at it, email me at and I’d love to hear how you can describe the Pacific "thing" and how you think Pacific left a footprint on you.

Keep daydreaming,

Rachael Burbank
Assistant Director of Alumni Relations | 503-352-2969

Posted by Rachael Burbank ( on May 13, 2013 at 1:20 PM

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