From Texas to Athenian: What I’ve Learned from Four Years in the Dorms

by Garrett Vaughn ’16

IMG_3325The words ‘senior’ and ‘graduation’ still seem so foreign to me, but pausing for a moment to consider that it’s already April, and with every college letter that slowly trickles in, it should be hard to deny these two words. I’ve been boarding at Athenian for four years, and while watching the boarding community grow in both students and on-campus faculty has been great, I am also struck by the small, insular, and thoughtful community I joined three years ago.

Freshman year was a year of transitions: moving from a small, quiet town in Texas to Danville, California was quite a change in pace, and the world I knew expanded. As an only child for fourteen years, suddenly I had a roommate and seventeen other brothers all with their own patterns and routines. Communal living was challenging and required a different sort of patience then I was used to. I had to be patient with my roommate and came to the conclusion that sometimes when I wanted to go to bed, the lights might be left on for another hour as he completed his homework. Several years later, I considered that maybe I should have been more patient when talking to Dorm Assistants (Dorm Prefects as they are now called) and not have been so combative when I thought they were being unreasonable to make me work dish crew on my day off.

I also had to learn to be patient with myself. One of the hardest transitions was going from a public school to Athenian’s experiential academics. I had to give myself space to grow as a learner and to go easy on myself when I fell below my personal expectations. Likewise, I also learned to be proactive and to seek help when I needed it.

I’m thankful for that small community I found when I first came to Athenian. I am still struck by the friends that I’ve made these last four years. And while our relationships haven’t always been perfect, I don’t know who I would be without these people. I’ve lived with Paula now for four years at Athenian, and her room is still a place where I unwind and decompress, go through a thousand or more flashcards on Anatomy terms before a test, or go to watch movies on the weekends. These are the kinds of simple experiences that highlight my Athenian career.  Athenian has molded me into a critical thinker, a pursuer of truth, and a questioner of the world. But what I’m most thankful for is this wonderful community that has pushed me and given me support and the small family that has grown around me.