Dr. Chapman’s Found Home

One Former Vanguard’s Journey in Higher Education

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  Some say a Ph.D. doesn’t mean you’re smart-It means you’re persistent. I graduated 35th in my class at El Modena and my closest friend was 34th. This meant we sat next to each other at all the events honoring the Top 50. Being somewhere in the middle of that clump told me I was average.

   I was in some AP and honors-level courses and kept up with my peers without being a superstar. I struggled in AP U.S. History and did not realize I was good at math until I was in Algebra II. 

   I nearly failed 7th grade general art and got a D in photo- both because I failed to turn in assignments that were complete, but not good enough. 

   I was a first-generation college student with no idea what I was doing on my applications. My mom got some help with financial aid issues but I went to interviews and info sessions on my own. 

   What I found was a world that recruited me based on my PSAT scores,but did not welcome the kid who was not there with a dad in a school sweatshirt or parents who were both alumni. 

   No one talked to me at some events. And I was too shy to ask questions. I applied to all the schools OTHER people thought sounded fancy and got in everywhere. 

   But, Smith had made me feel welcome at their recruitment event. So welcome, I accepted and showed up on campus without ever visiting because the trip expense was out of the question.

   When I got my college acceptances, I thought the schools had made mistakes and when I arrived at Smith College, I was absolutely sure of it. I was surrounded by brilliant women who had all been National Merit Scholars and yearbook editors and champion debaters. 

   I was a dancer and  Thespian President with a love of history. Most of my weekends were spent reading for class and washing dishes for my work study job. My roommate was and is the most brilliant woman I know. I credit her and my Smithie community with who I grew to be.

   I’ve really embraced the idea that if you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. I never feel like the smartest-maybe the most determined or most organized. And I think that has made all the difference. 

 

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