Traveling West we received a blessing for scheduling in the form of time zones. Each section gave us an extra hour to sleep/navigate traffic/plan incorrectly for travel. Going east? A curse, really. How appropriate that our last time jump is also the one that we wake up, realize what’s going on, and need to leave an hour earlier than we expected. Thank goodness for poor sleep habits and waking up early!
Nelly kicked it into high gear, had relatively minimal traffic (and no Juan hitting his head on the steering wheel), and we made it to Zonolite Park with time to spare. There was even a pavilion we were able to commandeer for our cohort. Small victories!
Over our regularly scheduled program, we had a few Ephs and a parent stopped by to say hello. We were lauded for our selection of park and garden space as both have been pretty integral to life in Atlanta these days, but all credit goes to Anjali Williamson '01 who proposed the location. It was still nice to hear it was a resonant location and ties with the place.
After our regularly scheduled program, we were actually visited by another alum, Daquan Daly ’16, and another parent who happened to just be wandering through the park and enthusiastically wanted to say hello. Classic Williams people.
We had the privilege of sneaking in one more interview while we were in Atlanta: Cassandra Kirk ‘89, who currently serves as Chief Judge Magistrate Court of Fulton County. In this role, Cassandra helps to make the judicial system accessible to the everyday person by meeting constituents through channels and methods of communication they can understand. She was appointed to this role in 2014 by Governor Nathan Deal and has created a model for community transformation around the justice system in the county. Cassandra relayed how the sense of public service was instilled early on by her parents, growing up in Georgia, and experiencing the judicial system from all angles. A remarkable commitment on her end, she seeks to find solutions stemming from a sense of confidence and ability to connect resources and challenge traditional structures. After our interview, Cassandra invited us to catch lunch at a nearby neighborhood restaurant with some delicious Turkish food.
This project’s core has always been the people and wrapping up the interview series warrants a moment of pause and reflection. First, we are incredibly proud and humbled by the work of our alumni who continue to impress and drop wisdom. We’ve learned a lot from them and can’t wait to continue sharing our conversations so you can learn too. The well of Williams is plentiful, you just need to reach in.
Second, everyone is at different points, doing different things, and it is all meaningful. Across our interviews, we’ve had folks in teaching, research, retirement, in periods of transition, healthcare, architecture, and so many other areas and they’ve all shared with us something to learn. From being confident to asking for help, making your own space to finding your community, there’s a lot of lessons from time at Williams and out in the world.
Third, our community is kind. People have welcomed basically strangers into their homes, offices, towns, and shared openly about struggles and success (or the perceived struggles with “being a success”). We’ve had folks get teary eyed with gratitude, talk about overcoming huge challenges, and reflect on their own stories. Alums fed us, offered their homes, and encouraged us to get back in touch should we ever roll through with more time. The warmth was beautiful and meaningful and went a long way towards keeping us inspired to push through and connect with the next person. It was no surprise that people were wonderful, but it was incredible the depth of it. We look forward to crossing paths again in the future.
Lastly, everyone’s story is different and you shouldn’t measure your journey by others. There are probably people who appreciate where you are because it is where they aren’t. Your story is your own, you’ve faced your own challenges, had your own successes, and should celebrate the small victories whenever you can. Find your joys, be kind to yourself, and know you are special and important and have a role in your community, whatever that community looks like.
The last few days of Ephs on the Mooove will be a lot more driving and more stops along the way, so our updates might be a bit less frequent, but we will update as much as we can! The Blue Ridge Parkway is a notorious dead zone, but when we return, we’ll have photos for you and then a host of small gatherings for the northeast, with a Williamstown return on Friday July 30th. Thanks for understanding, following, and we hope we’ve brought you some joy along the way. We’ve been privileged to be on this journey and glad we can share it in some way with you.