I was very fortunate to have been invited as a special guest at a small donor appreciation dinner at the Athenaeum this past Wednesday night.
For those of you who don’t know what the Athenaeum is, it’s a private membership
club located on the Caltech campus. It currently has over 3,500 members
including Caltech faculty, trustees, alumni, grads students, undergrads, etc. The building and facilities (including tennis courts!) are ABSOLUTELY gorgeous and is constantly being used for wedding ceremonies and receptions on the weekends. It also has the most AMAZING food during lunch and dinner!
What is also really cool?—It’s located right next to the student houses! Walk east on the Olive Walk and you will be lead straight to the steps of the Athenaeum! I also remember my freshman year when I first saw the Ath, there was a film crew all over the grounds–turns out, they were filming scenes for the TV show, UGLY BETTY during it’s first season!
Anyway, the appreciation dinner I had with the alums, and Andy Sudol, the Director of Annual Giving Programs was fabulous. It was fun to talk with the alums about the fun stories and experiences they had when they were students in the 60s (one of the alums had Kip Thorne as a classmate, and the other took classes with Richard Feynman!). In turn, I also enjoyed speaking about my own experiences and the campus today.
The food was amazing—as always. I was STUFFED from the extensive buffet spread, YUM! I also enjoyed the beautiful Christmas and holiday decorations in the foyer. It really got me into the holiday spirit! There was a gigantic Christmas tree that was so gorgeous and smelled so wonderful!
I tried to take pictures with it—but there were too many lights from the tree, that my camera simply could not focus on my face…but you get the idea: it was breathtaking
Deck the Ath with boughs of holly….
I look so tiny next to the Christmas tree!
Me, investigating to see if the tree was really real…
Whenever I tell someone that Caltech has an undergraduate population of less than one thousand people, their first reaction is disbelief. “Really?” they exclaim. “You must know everyone! How can you get a real college experience with so few undergrads?”
One of the most exciting aspects of college life is the freedom that students enjoy when living on their own. When most students think about college life, one of the first things that comes to mind is Greek life, with the many sororities and fraternities on campuses across the country. While Caltech does not have Greek life, per se, we do have a unique housing system, similar to that of Hogwarts. There are eight houses and one residence on campus: Avery, Blacker, Dabney, Fleming, Lloyd, Page, Ricketts, Ruddock, and the Bechtel Residence. Each of the houses has its own unique culture, character, and traditions. I am a member of Ruddock House!
This past year was so different than most of us could have ever imagined. Living in “the virtual school year” posed a plethora of challenges, but at the same time, it opened the door to new possibilities. As a society, we learned how to better operate in a virtual world, and as individuals, we had time for new endeavors. For myself, this meant taking the leap of faith to move away from home and live with some fellow Techers. While I had already had the experience of moving away from home and coming to live in the Caltech houses, this was quite different. Instead of living in organized student residences with hundreds of other students, a meal plan, and tons of support resources, I was about to go live with just 5 other people (some of which I did not know super well) and we had to find and manage our own housing, food, and necessities.