I first visited the Mount Holyoke campus on Admitted Student Day and, as I got out of the car to pick up my welcome packet at Blanchard Hall, I was taken aback by how unlike a college campus my surroundings were. The colleges that I had toured throughout high school looked very similar — tall, drab cement or grey, gothic-style buildings. Mount Holyoke’s campus was open with bright red brick buildings and arched doorways. My first thought, which has since been echoed by many friends who have visited me on campus, was that this place looked like it was straight out of Hogwarts. It was April, a time when spring was in full bloom, and the magnolia trees were swaying in the wind, showering the ground with their flowers and filling the breeze with their sweet scent. Everywhere I turned, I was astounded by the sheer number of flowers I saw. That was my first impression of campus.
A few months later, as I started my first year at Mount Holyoke, I discovered that the dorm assigned to me was Prospect Hall. As I drove across the little bridge over the lake, I was a little disappointed to be very honest. Unlike the beautiful red buildings on Skinner Green, my dorm looked quite plain. I started carrying my belongings to my room and as I unlocked the door and entered the room, I saw in front of me the most beautiful view of the sparkling lower lake. The initial disappointment that I had felt upon seeing my dorm was gone in a heartbeat. To this day (and I write this as a senior), that is the most beautiful view I have seen on this campus.
The journey to actually finding my favorite spot on campus came a little after moving into my dorm. Classes had started and since most of my classes were STEM, I had to go to Clapp Laboratory. Every day I would take the cemented path next to the Art Building, which basically meant that I was always running to class and getting there with an acute case of shin splints. One day I was running really late and as I ran out of my dorm, I saw a person emerging from an area between some shrubs next to the Art Building. To say that I was confused would be an understatement. Those were desperate times, however, and as I eyeballed the direction that the person had come from, I knew it would get me to my destination faster. I got ready to tear through the shrubs and get a decent hike in before my 8:30 a.m. class. Lo and behold, as I was walked towards the bushes I saw a little path. The path was pebbled — a pond with a statue in the center was on my left and on my right was the Talcott Greenhouse. As I walked further, there was a little garden with the most beautiful fall flowers and then steps leading right to my destination.
Even though my destination was so close, I arrived late to class that day. I stood in this little haven of flowers and trees and felt like I had found my own secret oasis on this campus. Of course, it turns out that many people use this path and it wasn’t really my secret. However, in the last four years when it has felt like nothing was going my way, that (not-so-) secret oasis of mine proved to be a great spot to ponder and reenergize.
When you support Campus Preservation through The Mount Holyoke Fund, you help keep the College’s specialty gardens maintained from season to season, so that students like me can discover the intimate hidden beauty that lies within the gates. You enable us to cultivate spaces that rejuvenate and revitalize us throughout our Mount Holyoke journey.
Your gift. Your choice. Choose your destination.