First Generation

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Susanna Dorr, Webmaster

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Dorr in 1965.

Having been the only child of a single and quite unhappy mother,
I resolved very early that I wanted to enjoy my life much more than she did hers. She both encouraged that aspiration and told me how to achieve it. In the era of my youth, girls were expected to grow up and marry and succeed at homemaking and child raising. Mom impressed upon me the necessity of going to college so that I'd have a good career "to fall back on" in the event that the life of June Cleaver* was not in my stars and I had to make it on my own.

So, go to college I did. My mother was unable to help financially, but I was fortunate enough to earn a scholarship. I loved college! It promised freedom and gave me, perhaps for the first time, a sense of choicefulness about my future. Just looking through the catalog was so exciting. What the list of courses assured was that, given enough effort, I could learn almost anything I wanted to. However, since at age 18 I was inclined to consider Donna Reed* a more desirable role model than, say, Madame Curie**, I opted for a major that wouldn't lose its value over time -- for example, during my child-raising years.

I chose English, my worst subject. Unlike the sciences or technology, I figured, English wouldn't much change in a decade and render my education outdated. For entirely different reasons I could not then imagine, the choice proved a very good one. Studying English taught me to express myself in words and gave me facility with the written language -- a skill that has benefitted me in every single job I've ever had or every business venture I've undertaken.

Susanna in 1970.
(The year college    
was interrupted.) 

Finishing college was something of a struggle for a variety of reasons. It was the tumultuous Viet Nam era. An early marriage interrupted my studies, but, after experiencing the kind of employment available to me without that degree, I was determined. With the help of a federal loan and an on-campus job, I was able to return to school after a year away, graduate on time by taking way too many courses, and then pursue a master's degree.

Quite by accident, I've been involved in computer technology during nearly all of my adult life and had only one college course in computers (they almost didn't exist back then). Further, I've mostly worked for myself and only occasionally have held jobs requiring a college degree. But regardless of what I've done, my education has been a foundation of immeasurable value. It has:

  • imparted a level of bottom line self-confidence that with enough effort, I can do what I set out to do;
  • increased my starting pay and created opportunities in even jobs that haven't required a degree; and
  • most important, given me the skills to study, think, and learn on my own.

To students attending college now or contemplating the possibility, I'd like to say this: You and only you live in your own skin every moment of your life. Going to college is an investment in your own self and your own future as well as in those who will follow you -- whether your children or those you will inspire.

You and they are most definitely worth it!


*For those of you too young to remember and who don't watch Nick at Night, June Cleaver was the mom in the TV series Leave It to Beaver, and Donna Reed was another idealized television mom of the era.
**Madame Curie was a Nobel Prize winning physicist and chemist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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