by Kelly Campbell '10

I find it easiest to view my college years through a series of numbers. 2009, for instance, is one. As a 3rd year student I feel the final year (number 4!) quickly approaching, and, with it, the culmination of what is affectionately referred to as my "College Career," or "4-Year-Plan." Recently, I returned from my 6-month study abroad in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It's given me a chance to identify what at Kalamazoo College I had missed, wrote home wishing for, felt a comfort in, and, finally, returned to. My time at "K" is broken up into takes and returns. 2006 marked the entrance.

As day 1 began, year 1 took shape. I entered into academia. Specifically, I entered into the theater. It's what I had long studied and loved, and it's a lens through which I understand the world. I knew I wanted to go to "K" because I wanted to become what theatre guru Constantin Stanislavski referred to as "a good liver." I wanted to take math and philosophy right up next to my theories of the stage; I wanted to go to sports games with an oversized book in one hand and my coffee balanced in the other; I wanted an experience-based education through internships and externships and the epic study abroad. And I wanted room to be a 20 year old, complete with the mistakes and growth that comes with that.

I grew and I challenged new interests and fields. During 1st year I was able to experience a bit more of America. I traveled down to New Orleans with a group of students, and we helped tear down Hurricane Katrina's ruins in the city's 9th Ward and re-build homes for people who were left without. I split Year 1's summer between an internship in Becket, Massachusetts, and an externship in Rodham, North Carolina. It was during those experiences with two "K" alumni that I began to calm the voice in my head (which sounded a lot like my wise grandmother's) and its incessant refrain: "A theatre major!? What are you going to do with a theatre major?" The answer (in my voice) was simple: whatever was going to make me happy.

Year 2: I worked hard, and I went to New York for the three-month, winter-term Great Lakes Colleges Association art program. Enter, stage left: more self-revelations and career building and analysis. The best thing New York did for me was to reshape my perception of my own mobility and knowledge. What I had learned at "K" and where I saw myself did not disappear after walking off campus. The (relatively) secure walls of academia were a part of me and what I needed. My education was inescapably me.

Year 3: I sit on the Quad in spring and feel again the emergence of the academic community I had missed while abroad. All over, there are firsts on campus, just as there were firsts all around the world--some of them my own.
I knew I wanted to go to "K" because I wanted to become what theatre guru Constantin Stanislavski referred to as "a good liver."
"K" has offered me opportunities to see myself as my own being with my own place on a planet I share with others.

Countdown: ONE year to go, and in that year is time to continue. The opportunities won't end past the digits making up my graduation date (2,0,1,0). Opportunities stretched before the first day I stepped on campus, and they will stretch beyond the first day I leave it as an alumna. I have built my own stage, unique in operation, in outcomes (many still to come), and in the commitment to my own vision of success.

Kelly's "vital numbers" depend on other vital numbers (the Kalamazoo College Fund) that depend on you. Because Kelly is one of the 97 percent of students who receive Kalamazoo College financial aid, her amazing experiences here are possible because of the generous support of alumni, parents and friends of Kalamazoo College.

Like most students--and most alumni--Kelly might not have had the opportunity to come to Kalamazoo College if not for the support she received through the KCF. KCF helps fund student scholarships, faculty development programs, the transformational experiences in which students participate, and the College's greatest needs. Please consider making a gift to this year's KCF by June 30, 2009. Today, perhaps more than ever, your support of KCF is essential to the success of Kalamazoo College students!

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