When I ended up at Mills on that late summer day in 2012 for orientation, I had no idea what was happening — literally. I had chosen Mills because of where it was located; I didn’t know what I wanted to study, no idea of Mills’ history, no idea of what this place was really about.
I have had the somewhat bittersweet privilege of being at Mills during a particularly contentious time. And honestly, I don’t think I would trade it. Mills is by no means perfect and has a long way to go, but what I learned last semester during the curriculum changes was more than I could have imagined. It forced me to question and to educate myself. In a strange way, it felt like the epitome of what Mills really stands for — for better or worse — wrapped up in several truly crazy weeks.
Like many people, my first two years of college were rough. I found it difficult to find community. I filled out the paperwork to drop out several times, but always at the last minute I felt like I couldn’t give up. So there I was in classes at the beginning of the semester, wondering how I had ended up here and why.
By some stroke of genius I took Intro to Book Art in the fall semester of my sophomore year and fell in love. The Book Art program kept me at Mills. I was lucky and had the luxury of taking as many book art classes as I could fit in my schedule. The studios became my haven where I felt at home, relaxed and happy. I learned that it was the place where I could experiment, where I was supported and was encouraged to explore.
In the spring of that same year I stumbled into Sarah Pollock’s travel writing class and fell in love for a second time. By the end of that first class, I had decided I wanted to be a creative writing major and focus on creative nonfiction and journalism.
Over the next year I wrote and wrote, and when I wasn’t writing, I was printing. I found the community I had been longing for. Throwing myself into a field where interviewing has to be second nature forced me to engage with Mills. Coupled with book art, I had unknowingly created a perfect match that allowed me to learn about the world and ask questions while simultaneously presenting my ideas effectively.
I have grown as a student, as a person, as a friend, as a writer and as an artist. I have had some of my most trying moments, and some of my best. I have met people that have changed my life and will continue to indefinitely. I have learned about things I never dreamed of. I have taken risks.
What I will miss most are the moments, often late at night, when my peers and I debated, asked questions and pushed each other to try harder and do better. Mills instills a fierceness in its students that has taught me to advocate and care deeply for the space that I am in.