My Goddess, you can't even begin to imagine all the wonderful young people on this campus! Two that I met and chatted with for a time stand out: Stephanie, a tall, slender African-American who has been working since she was 13. She's the first in her family to go to college and figured out the ropes on her own. She earned her B.A. at U.C. Berkeley, working the whole time to put herself through. Berkeley, she said, gave her more than an education; it taught her self-reliance. She's been working I.T. at a non-profit several years and got laid off. She's starting her Masters in computer science and is hoping to be able to only go to school and not work for at least one semester. I hope she gets her wish - I know she'll do well.

The other stand out is a young man (yes, Mills accepts men but very few apply), who is a part of my cohort in the MBA program. He was raised in East Oakland and Richmond, CA. As he put it, "there were 12 of us on my street who started school as kids together. Today, 8 are dead, 2 are in jail, and the other is mentally retarded. Then there's me ..." He's working at an AIDS non-profit and will be pursuing his MBA concurrently. He wants to get his doctorate and become a professor, particularly so he can help young people of color. I have no doubt that he'll accomplish this and much more.

I tell these stories because I think the young people of today often get a really bad rap. I think they are smart, experienced, insightful, sensitive, aware, and brimming with an authentic desire for social change and good. I love them and I'm so grateful to be among them.

There's also a good proportion of mid-lifers like me in the program, probably 15%, which is reassuring (I'm not the only lunatic!). I haven't had the chance to talk with all of them, but those I did chat with shared similar stories and goals; e.g., laid off, bored to tears with previous job, seeking growth through education, and looking for a change.

I want to mention that another part of my decision to return to grad school is in honor of the spirit of my friend, Willie Neiman. Willie and I earned our Anthropology Masters together and remained good friends over the years. We always talked about how we were going to go back to school one day (he was brilliant). He died of cancer last year at age 53. I'm sure he's hangin' on Mt. Olympus with Zeus thrusting lightening bolts, and traipsing off from time to time to help Thor wield his hammer. Willie's spirit keeps me strong and resolute in my decision. To you, Willie, "full throttle!"

Back to Mills ... We're the first class in the new Lorry Lokey Graduate School of Business building and it's magnificent! It's super modern and green, with an incredible garden rooftop that you can see when on the second floor. We have plush chairs, state of the art technology, and that awesome newness everywhere. It feels like a fine place to be spending my time! I have my first class tomorrow - Negotiations. Can't wait!

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Comment by Susan Ito on September 7, 2009 at 1:42pm
I've watched that building go up. It's amazing! I went to grad school (creative writing) at Mills in 1992-94. It's a wonderful place to go to school.


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