My name is Ally, and even though I’m a sophomore this year, Houghton has been my home for just over ten years. My family moved here when I was eight. We had been living in the sandy, southwest corner of Colorado ever since I was a toddler, but, when my dad, a librarian, was offered a job at Houghton College, the beloved alma mater of both my parents, we picked up and moved back east.
Surrounded by Beauty
I remember the first night when we came and took a lazy walk around campus in the evening. Even at eight, I was struck by how beautiful everything was. After hot, dry Colorado, I was amazed by how many trees grew around campus, and by how green and lush the grass on the Quad was—perfect for bare toes.
We wandered across campus and down the hill to the walking bridge over the creek behind Lambein Hall, one of the girls’ dorms. Mom and Dad told us stories of their adventures in college while we listened and peered over the side of the bridge at the water beneath. If I tried, I could almost imagine Mom and Dad as students at Houghton—but I certainly couldn’t imagine that I would be a student here myself. Fast forward about a decade, and here I am, a proud Highlander, making memories that I might tell as stories to my own kids one day.
My Bright-Orange Calculus Experience
Since I live in the area, I was able to take a few classes at Houghton as part of my high school experience, which was a huge part of what led me to choose Houghton. In my junior year, I took Calculus I at Houghton, which gave me a chance to get an idea of what classes at Houghton are like. My majors are math and English, so one of my big considerations in choosing a college was what the math department had to offer.
Calc I was incredible. I was more challenged than I had ever been before, but also, I was having so much fun. What I was doing was hard, but there were so many opportunities available that helped me to succeed. I went to almost every help session to get help from the teaching assistants and struck up unlikely friendships with the other students while we puzzled over the mysteries of integrals and derivatives.
I went to my professor’s office to ask her questions, while she graciously pointed out places where I’d written 4s instead of 9s. She’s an enthusiastic and caring woman, renowned among her students for her fun teaching style and her love of orange.
When, over the course of my junior and senior years of high school, I visited other colleges, sat in on Calc I and talked to their math professors, they paled in comparison to my bright-orange Calc I experience at Houghton. I took several other classes at Houghton during those last two years of high school in a variety of different areas, all of which echoed in different ways my good experience with calculus. The professors I met through those classes and the excellent instruction they gave me are so much of what led me to attend Houghton.
A Unique Off-Campus Opportunity
Another thing that stood out to me about Houghton was the unique opportunity it gave me in the London Honors program. During senior year, I was invited to apply for Honors and was subsequently accepted into the London program, one of three Honors tracks at Houghton. This meant that I got to live and study in London for all of spring semester my freshman year. Over twelve weeks, we traced the development of Western culture—me, twenty-one other students, our loving teaching assistant, and three professors who became more like parents to us.
I made deep friendships there. It would be hard not to, since we spent so much time thinking together. We would walk the streets and point out sights, contemplate paintings together and debate endlessly, be it about our assigned reading, about movies, about what architecture we liked best, or about who was most likely to meet the queen. I value the unique opportunity that this trip gave me, not only to learn deeply about how to think, but also to learn what it means to be a person in community with others. I continue to treasure the friendships that I made there.
An Inspiring Place to Learn and Grow
As amazing as that semester was, it’s been so good to be back on campus for my sophomore year. I love the environment of Houghton, and I love being able to take nice walks or do my reading out in the Houghton Forest when the weather is nice. I love to write, particularly poetry, and the Houghton campus provides an inspiring landscape for my writing. Though I’m still uncertain of exactly what path my career will take when I leave Houghton, my expectation is that writing will feature strongly in my life’s work, and the writing that I do in odd moments is invaluable to me.
When I’m not writing, or outdoors, I can usually be found having tea or other adventures with friends, painting or taking care of the many houseplants that live in my dorm room. I love how, at Houghton, I get the chance to spend my time praying, reading, learning, doing math, talking to friends and generally growing in every way.