On Saving Sweet Briar – One Student at a Time

sweet briar

Photo by Aaron Mahler

I’ve struggled, since March 3rd to write about my reaction to the announcement of closure of my alma mater. I’ve reblogged others’ posts. Found my own impossible dreams. I’ve tried to show others how to spread the word about #SaveSweetBriar.

The afternoon of March 3rd found me huddled in the ladies’ room at WebMD sobbing like a family member had passed away.

I shuffled through the stages of grief, and at first, the Save Sweet Briar response felt disorganized and ill-advised. Sweet Briar women stand by our word. I am not the only one who felt that pledging a dollar amount was as good as spending it. I didn’t feel compelled to pledge. I needed more structure from the alumnae response. I needed more information from the president and board of directors.  (That came later, and I firmly stand with the alumnae now!)

My first question to the world about Sweet Briar was not “What will we do to save her?” but rather “What will we do for the current students?” I peppered Facebook and Twitter groups with the question.  I was kind of a pill about it. But – to this day – I feel the most strongly about this point. The students – who are at the beginning of their college careers, who are at the start of their journey – they are the most vulnerable in this whole mess.  

The closure was announced without warning past the normal deadlines for transfer applications. Colleges across the country extended deadlines, and did what they could to help with financial aid. But scholarships had long ago been awarded for the coming fall semester. And these women were faced with not only finishing the current Spring semester under a haze of controversy, sadness, and upheaval, they also had to go through the agony of selecting the right college for them. Again.

This was the biggest pain point I could see – the largest open wound. And I’ve been saying since March that we need to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.  When Saving Sweet Briar offered to help pair up alumne with students in need of help to transfer, I signed up the day the page went live.

I imagined myself in these young women’s shoes. Had this happened in the late nineties when I was attending Sweet Briar, and relying upon on campus work and financial aid to get by, I don’t know that I’d have been able to keep going to college right away. I might have opted to work for a while. My trajectory would have been completely different from the one I followed.  I want to help keep these women in college – and in the colleges they want to attend (if it can’t be Sweet Briar).

I was paired up with a student who is class of 2017 – a sister class with my class of 1997 – we would share reunion years, class colors, mascots, and our class rings would match.  She, like me, is an international affairs major with an affinity for languages. She is a double major with Classical studies (which I could geek out about for days), and we both worked at the Academic Resource Center at Sweet Briar. She is transferring to Agnes Scott, here in Atlanta. And I get why. When I have visited the small campus near Decatur, it strikes me as homey and familiar.  They have her majors, they offer classes she wants to take.

And even though Agnes Scott was incredibly generous with financial aid, she’s still got a shortfall in her tuition costs for the fall.   To make matters more stressful, her parents are paying for a lot of medical costs for one of her siblings.  They can help with books, and she’s working a summer job, but this is not going to be enough.   We have to raise $4,750 by August 1st.  

I’m ironing fabric to make pink and green scarves to sell for the cause, Camille is getting her knitting needles ready.  Until we get our crafts cobbled together, I’m offering this: I will match every dollar donated to Camille’s Go-Fund-Me campaign between now and July 1st. You can double your donation by giving early!

Even a gift of $10 would get us closer to our goal.  Please donate. And thank you for helping.

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One thought on “On Saving Sweet Briar – One Student at a Time

  1. Pingback: Authentic Help & The Serenity Prayer | A.K. Anderson

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