This coming weekend, alumni will descend upom campus. Although events fill the homecoming calendar, for Knoxians it is the people who really make Knox a place to come home to.
A former staffer at The Knox Student, Katy Sutcliffe ’12 is returning to campus to experience what she sees as the best part of Knox: the people.
“Some of the most important people in my life are at Knox,” she said. “I’m looking forward to catching up with them.”
While at Knox, Sutcliffe served as president of the Pi Beta Phi sorority, a member of the Philosophy Club and Co-Mosiac Editor for TKS. Now working as an Administrative specialist at the Animal Resources Center at University of Chicago, Sutcliffe says that the knowledge she gained at Knox has served her well post-Knox.
“I guess I’ve only been in the ‘real world’ for four and a half months, but in that time I’ve come to understand how much Knox gave me,” she said.
For Sutcliffe, Knox gave her a “drive to seek out real-world opportunities,” and while there, she met “the most important people in [her] life.”
In addition to seeing friends and checking up on things on campus, Sutcliffe says she is looking most forward to finally getting to the Gizmo to eat the pre-eminent Gizmo breakfast bagel for the first time in months.
When Mark Berns ’97 was a student, there was a men’s lacrosse team on campus. While the organized men’s team is now defunct, the legacy still lives on through Berns and his friends. Berns looks forward to uniting with his teammates and old friends at his 15-year reunion this year, as well as seeing some new faces and additions to the college’s campus.
“I’m looking forward to seeing people from my class and checking out the new things on campus,” he said. “I haven’t seen the new [Knosher] Bowl or the new additions to the athletic facilities.”
An attorney from the St. Louis area, Berns has come to appreciate Knox’s breadth of curriculum and the quintessential liberal arts education it gave him.
“The overall diversity of education was helpful … instead of teaching me to learn the aspects of one field, I was able to take many different classes,” he said, “which has been a great help in my legal practice.”
Living in New Mexico, it has been difficult for Martha Byrne ’02 to make the trek out to Knox for homecoming in previous years. This year, however, is Byrne’s 10-year reunion, and despite the travel costs in a tough economic climate, with the support from family and friends she is thankful to be returning to her alma mater.
A current graduate student in mathematics at the University of New Mexico, Byrne is thankful to Knox for the broad range of disciplines her education covered and how that has enhanced the work in her field.
“I really went through a lot of self-discovery at Knox. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true,” she said. “I am now getting my Ph.D. in mathematics … and I’m able to look at math in a more broad way … being less focused on math for math’s sake.”
Like many Knox students, Byrne had several interests and talents that she delved into during her time on campus, some of which she hopes to revisit this weekend. While at Knox, she majored in mathematics, played for the women’s soccer team, sang alto in the Knox-Galesburg Community Chorus and even played oboe for Knox Jazz Ensemble for one year.
A member of the reunion committee, Byrne helped to plan the weekend’s special events for her class, including a tailgate party Saturday afternoon and a tour of Galesburg Saturday night, both of which she plans on attending.
Byrne’s fondest memory of Knox is simply sitting on the south lawn of Old Main with friends at the beginning of every spring term, just when the weather starts to get mild ,and “pretending to study.”
“I’m kind of amazed that [Knox] students ever get studying done [during the spring],” she said.
It is because of memories like these that Byrne, more than anything else, is looking forward to reuniting with old friends and colleagues.
“I made some of my best friends at Knox, but we were scattered around the country,” Byrne said. “It’s gonna be nice to be back … my time at Knox was fantastic.”
Rachel Perez ’11 regretfully missed her first homecoming at Knox, but she is determined to make up for it with her visit this year. While at Knox, Perez majored in secondary education, served as the Discourse Editor for TKS and was also a member of the Pi Beta Phi sorority. She is looking forward most to seeing both friends from her class and friends still working towards their degree.
“I haven’t seen people in a long time … I think this will be the last year I’ll know anybody that hasn’t graduated, so that’s exciting,” Perez said. “I’m also excited to see what my sorority is going to do for homecoming.”
For Perez, it is ironically the “boring things” at Knox that contain her fondest memories, and those are the things she will be happy to revisit while on campus.
“[My fondest memories were] hanging out in my dorm room, meeting up with people in the Gizmo,” she said. “The library was cool because I talked to the kind of people [there] that Knox attracts, people that are really passionate about what they’re studying … I guess I’m saying my fondest memory has to do with conversations at Knox.”
Now a substitute teacher and a nanny on the side, Perez’s experience of the world post-Knox has been shaped by the relationships she built at Knox. She credits much of this to the drastic change she underwent there in her social life.
“I think that since Knox has a lot of people that do not come into the school ‘socially graced,’ it becomes easy to grow into a socially graced person … because the environment is so supportive,” she said. “It was really good for me. I’m a totally different person than I was when I graduated high school.”
Regarding school-sponsored events this weekend, Perez thinks that she will grow into liking them, but for now it is just about the people.
“I’m sure when I’m a little bit older, the school-sponsored stuff would be exciting … but I’m still just interested in seeing my old friends,” she said.