Where we come from always influences us [UPDATED]Published 9:09am Wednesday, April 3, 2013 Updated 11:13am Wednesday, April 3, 2013
This is another in a series of articles written by students who received scholarships in 2012 awarded through the Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars chapter. The purpose of these articles is to thank the community for its support of students and their higher education goals.
Having transferred to Kennedy Secondary School my senior year, I will admit that I was not counting on support from the community in fulfilling my educational goals. Although I had family in the town and my dad had graduated from the district, I saw it as a short stop on my way to bigger and better things.
That is not the way I see my time in Fergus Falls now, thanks to organizations such as Dollars for Scholars and sponsors like Bank of the West.
In the first conversation with my new counselor where I mentioned Macalester as my choice college, he at first seemed surprised, even skeptical. However, he soon reflected my own determination in attending a college that, when mentioned to residents of Fergus Falls, they respond with That’s a really good school! or That’s a really expensive school!
Whichever angle taken, Macalester would be the challenge I was looking for.
The summer before my first semester at Macalester College was spent experiencing what Fergus Falls had to offer while interning at The Daily Journal and caring for my grandmother. When I left at the end of August, a move that I originally thought would be easy was bittersweet — I had become attached to Fergus Falls.
During my first-year orientation, we were asked to write and share “I am from” poems. The others in my group, aka Clan MacIntyre, narrated images of skyscrapers, oceans, and the sharp intonation of foreign languages. When my turn came (last, of course) I at first felt insecure in my description of a giant otter statue, the strumming of acoustic cover bands at SummerFest, the throbbing pain of slipping on ice, and the taste of walleye. However, everyone was genuinely interested in little Fergus Falls, and one girl from San Francisco thought my “accent” was “cute.”
I fell in love with Macalester and the Twin Cities within the first few weeks. The moment I realized how far I had come from Fergus Falls was a night spent sitting on the steps of the Japan house, having a conversation with an Estonian and Chinese student about economics while drinking tea and eating Doritos.
Academically, a lot happened to me my first semester. I’ve been an Economics, Neuroscience, Japanese, Astronomy, Russian, and Pre-med major, and written more papers than I did my entire high school career.
I’ve been challenged and changed a lot socially and emotionally. The death of my grandmother, a long-time resident of Fergus Falls, created additional doubts: I began to question what was really important and if all of the money and effort spent — my own and others’ — was worth it.
I got through my first finals week with help from sweatpants and gallons of caffeine. When break finally arrived I enjoyed the idleness of video games and reading things other than textbooks.
I spent a lot of time in Fergus Falls. Naturally, however, I soon became bored and reflected a lot on the idea of home. When I was at Macalester, I was homesick for the previous summer. However, when I was “home,” I was sick for my tiny dorm room.
That is when I remembered the “I am from” poem I wrote my first week. It recognizes that where we come from will always have an influence on us, even if we are leaving it all behind for seemingly bigger and better things. One of Fergus Fall’s biggest influences for me is the scholarship money we received from organizations such as Dollars for Scholars.
The money is not only a financial help, but also an emotional motivator and reminder as to where we come from.
Emily Flake is a 2012 graduate of Fergus Falls High School and was the recipient of the Bank of the West Scholarship. She attends Macalester College in St. Paul. For more information on making a donation for scholarships, contact Fergus Falls Dollars for Scholars, 601 W Randolph Ave, Fergus Falls, Mn 56537.