The Promise

by Geraldine Laybourne, Class of 1969

“You have to talk to the Dru (Dean Drouilhet), if you want to run, your grades are too low.”

I knew I was in trouble…I had had a rough entry into Vassar. My older sister E.D. was a junior and had a fun group of friends. I tried to keep up with them, but let my grades suffer. I wasn’t connecting to the substance of Vassar. I knew that I was my best when I was signed up to do more than I could handle—I needed to plug into something positive where I could make a contribution in order to get myself back on track.

I made my appointment and I must say at the appointed time… I was skinny enough then that my knees actually knocked in her waiting area. She looked at me in that way she mastered—with those eyes that said “this is going to be a good one.” I presented my case.

“I need to do this to get myself back to the person I know I am. When I am busy, I am happy and I perform. If you let me run, I promise I’ll get my grades up.” (I might have said straight A’s.) I ran, I won, I got connected to my college, my courses, my teachers, my dorm, my grades. Eventually I graduated magna.

But here is the interesting part. I made a promise that I kept and the Dru noticed. She kept track of me. And when there was an opportunity in my senior year to appoint a student representative to the Master Planning committee that worked on the transformation of Vassar to a coed institution, she picked me.

I chaired the Student Center sub-committee and the Dru sat on the committee along with architects, teachers and another student. That was heady for me and taught me that I wanted to lead and that I could corral a group of diverse people. I call it my business school education.

I am grateful for my Vassar education everyday: it taught me how to question everything, to have my own ideas, to stay engaged and to be collaborative with purpose.