Throwback Thursday…The College Years

Freshman drop-off at UMASS circa 1986

It’s a good thing today it’s Throwback Thursday since I’m continuing to feel a bit nostalgic this week. Last night, I attended an alumni event for my alma mater, UMASS at the Peloton Interactive penthouse in New York City. It turns out that one of the co-founders of Peloton was a UMASS alum (class of 1988). After he shared his favorite memories at the University – living in Orchard Hill, the five college program and a vegan place called BASICS, I decided to take a trip down memory lane too.

The photo above is with my dad on the very first day he and my mom dropped me off at my dorm. I lived in Southwest in a high rise called JQA. While we didn’t have Facebook groups to connect with roommates or like minded friends back then, the rumor was that everyone from New York lived in Southwest so it seemed like that choice would be the best option for me. Plus, when the Mets won the World Series that year, it was pretty exciting to be living in those dorms – who can say they were caught in the middle of a riot after the Red Sox lost in Game 7. Um, that would be me.

My first roommate’s name was Becky Blood. I remember Becky being pretty aloof and within a week of us moving in, she already started rushing a sorority. The good news is, Becky moved out by the second semester and I had the place to myself.

During my first semester, I tried out for a few musicals and while I narrowly missed out on a role in “The Fantasticks,” I did manage to land the spot of Jan in “Grease.” I made a few friends in the production and at the same time, decided to rush a sorority.

Later that spring, I was accepted into Alpha Chi Omega where I lived for the next year and a half. I remember at the time having a long distance boyfriend who I would call from the house phone which probably annoyed the other girls because I took up way too much time during our calls. There’s not much that I remember from the sorority house other than it looked like a ski chalet, I bunked with six girls my first year and we had cardio classes in our living room. I also had an awesome big sister who reminded me of my cousin Cindy and encouraged me to try out for a job at the UMASS Daily Collegian as an advertising sales executive. Despite the stiff competition, I landed the gig and got a great territory – Route 9 and then when one of the seniors graduated, I took over his area – the mall! I also started writing for the paper and wrote restaurant and soap opera reviews too. I was destined for stardom as a People Magazine writer – or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.

By the second half of my Junior year, I decided to do a 15 credit internship at home where I worked at WNBC-TV. That eventually led to my first job in talk show publicity. When I returned to UMASS my senior year, I moved into a house with my good friend Laurie and her Delta Zeta sorority sisters Smiley (that was her awesome nickname, but her real name was Ilene), Jean Kelly (always loved her name) and Christine. We lived right near the cemetery where Emily Dickinson was buried so that was kind of cool and creepy at the same time. We also ordered the best salads and pizza at Andy’s after a night of bar hopping. Sadly, after doing a Google search, Andy’s is no longer in operation but trust me, their salads that were always covered with a heaping serving of mozzarella cheese, were off the hook. 

I also remember the fantastic concerts at UMASS including the Romantics and Heart – it was an 80’s girl dream. While I didn’t attend the sporting events, one of my roommates was close with the basketball team and even cooked for them at our house from time to time. I remember super tall guys eating alfredo pasta at our house that Christine expertly prepared for them.

As far as my actual classes, I had some of the best professors at UMASS including Sut Jhally who was my internship advisor and is a major force in the Communications field to this day. I also had another professor named Justin Lewis who I loved – he had this super cool British accent and taught us all about how the media distorts messages about current events.  

Looking back, I really am grateful to have spent my college years at UMASS. I took advantage of a lot of opportunities as a student that set me up for success in my career and developed friendships and made connections that I will never forget. Here’s hoping the same will happen for my kids. I have promised to stop bugging my son about touring the campus but I am going to give it one last shot next spring. Here’s hoping for a nice sunny day with lots of ducks swimming in the pond. That’s what got me the last time around so you never know…