Amber Whitney Nichols ’10
The Rush for Education
Global vision, community, crossing borders, connectivity and action were characteristics that I desperately searched for in my hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After tireless pursuit of these characteristics, I often thought they were only idealistic. I began to feel there was no place for someone motivated, eager to learn and passionate to live out one’s dreams. Miraculously, like an answered prayer, I was introduced to Dickinson College through Philadelphia Futures. They seek out motivated students from inner city high schools to try to find a school that is the right fit for them academically and socially. Because Philadelphia Futures had faith in me, I was positive that I would have the support I needed to become the first in my immediate family to graduate from college. At first glance, I was puzzled as to what this small liberal-arts college in a little town that I hadn’t even heard of before had to offer me. Spending the summer before my senior year of high school at Dickinson, I knew without a doubt that this was where I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. Four years later, preparing to descend the stairs of Old West, I have a more clear vision of what my purpose was on this campus—it was to be a leader.
One valuable component of Benjamin Rush’s vision was to create and lead a group of individuals with a reputation for community and education to global excellence. Within these limestone walls I, as well as my peers, continue to live out Benjamin Rush’s dream and legacy on a daily basis. If he were alive today, Benjamin Rush would be astonished in the ways that the Dickinson student body has taken it upon them to organize and support causes that affect our community, directly and indirectly. Examples include raising over $18,000 for Haiti relief, or raising thousands of dollars each year at the Mr. Dickinson event for Safe Harbor, a shelter for unemployed residents, or participating in the implemented changes and sacrificed luxuries to help save money by cutting back on unnecessary spending.
When I think about growth, I think not only about the academic aspect, but also community growth. I have grown by listening to the voice of Dickinson’s campus. The campus voice is so influential that I find myself inquiring about recycling in people’s homes when I visit Philadelphia. Moralization often follows upon a “no, we don’t recycle” answer. My peers have also shared their stories about how their Dickinson leadership experiences have permeated through their lives at home. One friend started a small afterschool program in his or her hometown, another volunteered at a homeless shelter, and another stated that she, like I, is more recycle conscious. These community experiences beyond campus that change lives signify everything that Dickinson is achieving within these limestone walls: global vision, community, crossing borders, connectivity and taking action. After we walk down the steps of Old West, soon to be Dickinson alumni, we will continue to engage the world by maintaining a global eye for our community. Dickinsonians are individuals that have special powers. The engagements in our diverse community allow us to propel through new pathways. Our commitment to educating and learning demonstrates how we invest in our communities.
Global vision, community, crossing borders, connectivity and action are the characteristics that Dickinson uses as a format for excellence. This is the same format that our founder Benjamin Rush used as the blueprint to success in and beyond Dickinson. Using this approach, “first in America” applies to all of us. We are “first in America” because we are the first to utilize these characteristics as a part of our daily regimen. The concept of “first in America” will never cease to exist. “First in America” is a continuing cycle for all Dickinson students, because education has no finish line.