An open letter from Reba Gagne ’16

Dear Alumnae,

Reba Gagne '16It’s that time of year again: finals week — the toughest point in the semester. We have all experienced it, the times when we forgot to sleep, eat or even shower. It is the time of year that we are all running around so busy that we forget to look back and appreciate what is around us. I was in the Alumnae House the other day admiring the collection of Briar Patch yearbooks. Years of history are captured in those books, millions of memories of a college we all share a love for, thousands of amazing strong women lie within those pages. I realized how close I came to losing something so dear.

When the College announced it was closing, I was devastated that I would never get the chance to experience what it really meant to be a Sweet Briar woman, that I would go into the world and not have solid identity with a college or alumnae connection anywhere. The alumnae connection appeared to be this magical elusive unicorn that was out there, somewhere just out of reach. With the College closing while I was a junior, I hadn’t joined that group yet and as a senior transfer to a new college I would never truly be a part of theirs either. I was at a loss until …

Alumnae came out of the woodwork. You flocked to campus, bombarded us with emails and letters and packages and Facebook messages. You were everywhere. I had heard about our network beforehand but this was my first experience with it and it was amazing. I made many new friends, found role models and sisters. I felt supported and I found hope that no matter what happened, my future was taken care of because of Sweet Briar. We cried together, fought together, stood together and won together. I have a college today because of the support and love of the women who came before me, and I will have a future tomorrow because I know that I can follow in your footsteps.

The best part is that this support did not dissolve after our crisis ended. Our alumnae have continued to be an involved and significant part of life here like never before. You have brightened our campus. You have provided opportunities for us that would not have been possible without your help. You supported us at games, on-campus events, and even by mail. You have networked with us, laughed with us, spent time with us and encouraged us to make our time here the best it can be. We all have embraced this love and together as Sweet Briar women we have rebuilt every part of this college.

As a student, I want to say thank you. Thank you for caring and especially for continuing to be involved. Thank you for inspiring me, encouraging me and supporting me in my journey to becoming a Sweet Briar woman. I look forward to continuing this tradition of involvement when I join you as an alumna in May because I will always remember how much it means as a student to feel so supported. I am forever grateful to the women who reached out and touched my heart during my time here as a student, and I look forward to the time I, as an alumna, will take pride in the achievements of future students.

Thanks for giving me the best Christmas present I could have wished for!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

Reba Gagne ’16