Suzanne Harrison '79

The decision to attend Lakeland College was probably the best decision I have ever made in my life. It definitely altered the person I was, and transformed me into the person I am today. First, I must tell of how I arrived at the decision to come to Lakeland College.

In my senior year of high school, I found out that Lakeland College held a music camp each summer and that current seniors in high school could attend. As my family was planning on vacationing in nearby Ada, Wisconsin, where my grandmother and aunts and uncles had a farm, it was possible for me to attend music camp that summer. I absolutely fell in love with the campus and begged my mom and dad to send me to college there. Unfortunately, I already had been accepted to the University of Richmond for the fall semester and my parents told me that I couldn't go to Lakeland. I was devastated!

Well, fall came, and I had a horrible experience at the University of Richmond. I was a commuter and all commuters were called, "Townies" and not very well accepted by the more affluent students. As with many students struggling to find their identity, I started to have friends that could, at their best, be called "questionable," and, at their worst, "dangerous" to my well being and I actually almost decided to drop out of college completely. In despair, my parents called up Lakeland to see if they would take me, and upon their saying yes, I was given 24 hours to make a decision and get on a plane headed to Milwaukee. Fortunately for me, I made the decision to get on that plane!

Upon arriving in Milwaukee, I was met by a representative of the college who drove me up to Lakeland. It just so happened that night I attended a dance. It was there that I met some people who would become my close friends for the next three and a half years. It was that close group of friends that steered me in the direction of certain extra-curricular activities that would shape me for the rest of my life.

Now, as we all know, academics is the most important part of college; however, those extra-curricular activities are what shape a person sometimes. Before graduating, I had experienced singing and tap dancing in "Boys and Girls Together," the play for that year, and was an on-the-air personality for WVLC, the school radio station. The radio station experience led me to get a part-time job at WPLY in Plymouth, Wisconsin during the school year, and when back home for vacation, at WXGI. I have always said that the opportunity to participate in these activities would not have been possible at a big university like the University of Richmond, but because of Lakeland's small size, opportunities were greater. I went from a shy freshman to a confident senior in no time. There were many other things I experienced at Lakeland, like the ice-storm of '76 which forced all students to leave the campus for a few days, but to tell them all would be too time consuming. They will remain happy memories in my head.

Upon graduating from Lakeland in '79, I moved back home for a short while and was employed as a manager of a card and gift store. I soon transferred to the Falls Church, VA store and then onto a store in California. After spending my first Christmas Eve at the store, doing markdowns for the day after Christmas sale until midnight, I decided that I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life, so I went back to school and got my teaching credential. After getting that credential I was employed by the Montebello Unified School District, where I have been for 29 years.

Probably the most significant thing I have accomplished since graduation was the adoption of my daughter, Georgiana, from Romania when she was 4. That accomplishment was written about in an issue of the Lakeland College alumni magazine some 19 years ago.

Attending Lakeland definitely gave me an advantage for life. It also allowed me to keep up a family tradition, as my mother attended Lakeland for a couple of years before transferring, my father graduated from Lakeland, his brother went there when it was a military academy, I graduated from there, and my daughter attended for a short while. She plans to come back next spring. It is a tradition I am very proud of!

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