by Karen Bowen '86
When I think of Williams, the Alumni Office and the Society of Alumni, I envision a wheel, ever growing and spiraling outward and always moving on. With Williams College as the essential, originating source at the center, the Alumni Office provides structures emanating from that initial, shared core of experience, whereby far-flung alumni can reconnect with the College and with one another via diverse paths.
It is always our decision as to how (or whether) we find a place or move along the “Williams Wheel.” We can remain intimately, intensely connected on multiple levels or just “hop on” and “hop off,” dependent upon individual circumstances. The Society of Alumni’s bicentennial slogan “There’s a Place For You” demonstrates their commitment to welcoming all alumni at all times, regardless.
The challenge that I would like to add to this commitment is that the Alumni Office and Society of Alumni move beyond the conventional question of how they can help Ephs reconnect with Williams to consider how they can empower Ephs and their families worldwide to reach out directly to one another. This would enable all of us to appreciate and build upon our mutual affiliation with Williams, not by being physically present in Williamstown, but by using that everlasting component of our lives as the starting point for new, fruitful connections wherever we are today.
As I reflect on nearly 40 years of association with Williams, I am proud of the friendships that have lasted since day one in Sage D. I cherish the new friends I made as I expanded my Williams circle to include graduate students pursuing a master’s in art history there. And I treasure the wonderful, unexpected bonus of new connections forged in the past decades with Williams alumni and their families abroad in Austria, Germany, France, Norway, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and the UK. In different occupations, class years, etc., I would never have met these people via ordinary means. Yet, we share a strong bond of experiences past (at Williams) and present (in Europe) that we all value and appreciate as coming from Williams, even as we exist now independent of it.