From Nigeria to New York

by Paulina Makinwa, Class of 1963

I came to Vassar in the fall of 1960, having won one of 24 scholarships which had been offered to Nigeria and the Trust Territory of Cameroons from a group of Ivy League universities and colleges. I had no prior knowledge of Vassar, and the college was chosen for me by the organizers of the scholarship. What a fortuitous choice!

I made the Dean’s List during my freshman year and, in recognition of previous academic work in Nigeria, I skipped sophomore year. Within a span of just three years Vassar changed my life. From a diffident new arrival from Nigeria, I left Vassar a poised, confident, young woman ready to take on the world.

So many wonderful things happened to me at and through Vassar that I felt set me apart as a special person. A liberal arts education broadened my horizon and presented me with new, more meaningful vistas of the world. I joined other foreign students as guests of the Vassar Club of Washington D.C. and visited the White House of Jacqueline Kennedy, herself a Vassar girl. I was guest of the Vassar Club of New York and treated to memorable outings at the opera. Thanks to Vassar, which values ‘learning beyond the classroom,’ I spent an unforgettable late morning and afternoon with one of the greatest women of the 20th Century, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, at her Hyde Park home, Vassar’s neighbor in Dutchess County.

I remember my Vassar years with joy and appreciation for what I have become today. To quote from our graduating song: “Hats off to ’63! …Vassar thou art all One could ask!”