Are you ready to write your story?
Hello, Class of 2023!
I’m Dr. Chris Dodsworth, a faculty member at Spring Hill College, and I’d like to share with you a bit about what makes us so remarkable here on The Hill. I’ve taught at some of the most prestigious institutions in the country, including the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, and Notre Dame. Those are terrific schools, to be sure, but I can attest that Spring Hill has something that those powerhouse schools lack. What is it? Well, it’s the sort of thing that defies easy description. You have to experience it to understand.
So let me tell you my Spring Hill Story:
Before coming to Alabama, I spent my entire life in the Midwest. I’ve been at Spring Hill for eleven years now, but I still vividly remember that on-campus interview. As part of it, I taught a class, and afterwards, during a tour of campus and also at lunch in the dining hall, at least five (FIVE!) students came up to me at different times to say that they enjoyed my lecture. I was stunned. Why would they do that? Answer: That's just who we are. Even during my interview here, I sensed that something was different about this place. But I had no idea …
Flash forward to my first semester here. I had just moved about 800 miles from home and my cat, who had been with me through it all in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, died suddenly from cancer. I was pretty upset. A week later, one of my students showed up to my office hours with a cat she hand-picked for me! An animal lover herself, she had gone to every shelter in the city seeking out the purrfect cat for me. I was dumbfounded. People just don’t do that, I thought. Actually, yes they do. Because that’s Spring Hill. (If you’re wondering, yes, Pepper is still with me, ten years later!)
Later that same year, as Easter approached, I was wondering what I was going to do with myself; Ohio was too far for a weekend trip. Out of the blue, one of my students asked me about my plans for Easter. When I replied that I didn’t have any, his family invited me to spend Easter with them on the Gulf. So yes, I celebrated Easter on the beach, which was pretty amazing. And again I thought, who does that?
One of my favorite stories, though, happened a few years later. My entire department flew to Boston over Christmas break for a conference. That year, there was blizzard on the East Coast and getting on an airplane (if you could) was dicey at best. As it turns out, one of my students happened to live in Boston, and when she and her family found out that we were headed north, they insisted on picking us up from the airport and treating us to an amazing home-cooked meal, all in the midst of a blizzard. By then, I had learned not to ask who does that? –Because that’s Spring Hill.
So you see, Spring Hill isn’t just a college; it’s a way of life. It’s FAMILY. Recently, I’ve seen lots of colleges claim that their faculty “know each student’s name.” That’s nice, I guess. But simply knowing someone’s name isn’t the same as knowing them. I know the names of lots of people, but that fact alone doesn’t mean that I care about them or that I’m personally invested in their success. But at Spring Hill, caring about each other is exactly what we do. It’s what defines us. For every story I could tell, my fellow faculty members could tell another.
More important than our own stories, though, are the stories of our students. As a faculty member, my job is to accompany them as they write their own. My question to you is simple: What’s your story? Who will help you write it? I promise you one thing: at Spring Hill, you won’t just be “going to college.” In a very real way, you’ll be going home. Are you ready to write your story? Because I would love to hear it.