As I toured colleges with my sister this past summer, I became even more acutely aware of why it is that I chose McDaniel. On those hot, sweaty, summer days traipsing in and out of stuffy, dank dorm rooms all across the state, while wistfully waiting for the cookie or free food that I desperately hoped would reward us at the end of the tour, I thanked my lucky stars for the luxury that was Blanche Ward – air conditioning, new carpets, bright, clean walls, and big windows. I was also always eager to compare the pastry offerings in other dining halls to the superb oreo pie made by our pastry chef. I obviously didn’t find a match, as something that decadent cannot be recreated (though I hope to get the recipe before I graduate – never hurts to try, right?). I passed through the academic buildings of other institutions, occasionally old and decrepit, and remembered how thankful I am that McDaniel holds an intrinsic old charm, yet a very certain breath of fresh air.
But while I toured these other colleges, as my sister chose her fate for the next four years, mostly I was reminded that I chose McDaniel for reasons different from all of these. It wasn’t for the new academic buildings, bright dorm rooms, delectable oreo pie, or even the cookie at the end of the tour. Something very particular made McDaniel different. I sensed it in 2011 when I chose to enroll and again as I went through college tours for a second time.
McDaniel has a community unlike any other. People care about people. Professors reach out to students and invite them to academic conferences, to dinner at their home, to family game nights. Students reach out to one another, accepting each other for whoever they are, crossing social, economic, and racial boundaries to forge lasting relationships that deeply enrich lives. I love a good chocolate chip cookie at the end of a tour as much as the next guy, but believe it or not, ultimately it is these kinds of deep relationships between the members of the campus community that truly change lives here at McDaniel.