Life After Ripon – Ariana Myers ’14

Chapter 1: Change Can Be Scary…and Liberating

[Editor’s Note: Ariana Myers ’14, Nathan Held ’14, and Sophia Kaounas ’14 are writing rotating monthly entries for the Ripon College Newsletter chronicling their post-graduation experiences. We hope you enjoy their perspectives on Life After Ripon!]

Here I am, more than three months post-graduation, and so much has changed. It’s kind of scary, but also extremely liberating. Seeing so many of my Ripon friends posting on social media about moving back in was a truly emotional moment for me. Ripon was a home to me, and it was painful to know I wouldn’t be eating in the Commons with everyone and walking down to Storzer to register for classes.

Despite the nostalgia, things have been going quite well. In June I went to Guatemala for 10 days with my dad and Engineers Without Borders to help with the construction of a water filter for the city of Joyabaj. It was an unforgettable experience; every day we drove in a rickety truck through the clouds around the mountains to reach the site. Now the water quality for the people of that municipality has increased dramatically. I came down with pneumonia toward the end of the trip, but I soon recovered once back in the States. Not long after that, I went to New York City for the first time in my life with my mom, which was a blast. I got to see Alan Cumming as the Emcee in Cabaret and Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple of Inishmaan; it was oddly fitting, since I was in both of those shows my first year at Ripon!

I got accepted to Princeton University’s Ph.D program in History last February, and I moved into my new apartment six weeks ago. I just finished an intensive course in French – that’s my sixth language, soon to be seven (I’m taking Arabic in the Fall). It’s certainly exciting; I’m going to be taking three seminar courses with other graduate students! My background in the liberal arts ensures that I will be able to tackle this head on.

The East Coast certainly is different from the Midwest. On the positive side, I have easy access to public transportation, New York City and Philadelphia are each an hour away, and there seems to be fewer bugs. On the downside, it is a little bewildering to be going to a larger university; though Princeton is the smallest Ivy League school (8,000 students), that still makes it more than 8 times the size of Ripon! I was really glad to discover that there is a huge network of nature trails right behind my apartment building; the Cresco Prairie in Ripon was always a place I loved to visit when I needed a break, so I have at least some sense of continuity in that regard.

I think the biggest shift from Ripon to Princeton so far has been the sudden need to buy and prepare my own food. I’ve discovered what seems to have been a latent talent at cooking, to my relief. In 6 weeks I went through an entire bottle of olive oil! I think the best dish I prepared so far was scallops and shrimp with broccoli, rice, and asparagus!

Another significant change in my life has been my transition. Realizing I am transgender and moving forward with the process was one of the hardest and happiest things I have ever done. Princeton is one of the top 10 trans-friendly universities in the country, so it goes without being said that I have found a great deal of support for the process. It’s wonderful to be able to be myself after so long.

In closing, I would like to encourage any readers of this blog who are still students at Ripon to make the most of the time you have left there, because it goes by all too fast in the end. Go sledding on Sadoff! Make a quadruple chocolate milkshake in the Commons! Build a blanket fort with your roommate! Make those memories while you can; you won’t regret it!

Ariana Myers ’14

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