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Kirkland College

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Kirkland College was the perfect place for me. I wanted to be a writer and Kirkland was only one of three colleges in the US that had a creative writing program in 1972. My high school guidance counselor gave me the catalog & I was hooked. Written evaluations instead of grades made perfect sense to me. It took some effort to convince my parents because they thought I should go to a “state” college - paying $1800 a semester was a lot, & they didn’t understand why I would want to go to a new women’s college without grades. But once I saw the campus there was nowhere else I wanted to be.

 Being at Kirkland was like being part of a family. When I didn’t get into the Intro to Writing class my first semester, my advisor suggested that I talk to Bill Rosenfeld, who taught the class. So, at convocation & dedication of the new Burke Library, I sought out Bill, who graciously let me into his class. Bill became my advisor and friend; he insisted that I take classes from all disciplines, not just literature, to broaden my knowledge. So over the years I took anthropology, history, history of science, design, Moog synthesizer, religion, French, literature, and of course poetry and prose. My senior project was a book of five short stories called “Portraits and Self-Portrait.” Bill was on sabbatical that year, so I had a committee advise me: Natalie Babbitt, Michael Burkhard, and David Rigsbee.

 My Dad thought I should have a “back-up” plan to being a writer, so I also took photography courses with Steve Liebman and worked for the Kirkland College Office of Public Relations, covering arts events and the last Kirkland graduation in 1978. I have since worked as a freelance photographer, as well as book indexer and editor, including “Lost Orchard II: Nonfiction from the Kirkland College Community,” 45 essays published in 2021 by Pen Women Press.

 At the start of my junior year, I became ill and had to leave Kirkland for medical support at home. I was able to take classes at local colleges so that I could graduate with my class, but desperately missed Kirkland. So, while I was away, I made a needlepoint of the Kirkland seal (apple tree) and presented it to Kirkland President Sam Babbitt at my 1976 graduation. It is now hanging in the Kirkland showcase in McEwen Hall.

 Three years after graduation, I was invited to the Hamilton campus for a panel discussion on “what I did after college.” After graduation, I created a medical library at a doctor’s office and a technical library at a data processing company, as well as coordinating an in-house employee training program. Later, I did freelance public relations. I was sitting on “the swing” in McEwen and reintroduced myself to Lars Nielsen ’77; it turned out we lived an hour away from each other and became close friends, then got married in 1982. We were married for 36 years and had two wonderful sons, but unfortunately Lars died of brain cancer in 2018. It was a joy coming to Kirkland reunions together at Hamilton; though he graduated in 1977, he was an honorary member of the Kirkland class of 1976. He was a “Kirkie,” a creative writer who also taught undergraduate history, political science, and international relations. I will always cherish the bond Lars and I had with Kirkland.

 It’s now fifty years since I was a freshman, and I thank Kirkland for allowing me to be an independent thinker and a creative person. I am proud to have graduated from Kirkland; it truly was the place for me.