"We are UWTacoma" storytelling

August 19, 2019

My UW Tacoma Experience: A Tale of Three Persons

Below is a story written by Margaret Lundberg for the April 2019 kick-off for our storytelling project:

“Although there are so many people who have had an influence in my life over the 8 years I’ve spent on the UW Tacoma campus—including faculty like Nicole Blair who was not even one of my professors but encouraged me in my educational goals and let me know she cared about me as a person; there were advisers, librarians, and TLC staff who helped me re-learn the ropes of academia after a VERY long time away from college; and fellow students who, even though most were easily half my age, became colleagues and forever friends.

Although we don’t have enough time tonight for me to tell you about all of them, I can, however, point to three people without whom I would not be standing here today.

I arrived on this campus for the first time in 2011, for what was supposed to be an information session for prospective students. But that meeting ended up a conversation between Karin Dalesky and me—just the two of us in a room full of empty desks on the main floor of WCG. The session had been cancelled or moved to another day—I was never sure which—but either way, I was the only person who showed up.

But Karin still came down from her office to talk to me.

Perched on the sill of a window overlooking the courthouse on Pac Ave, Karin spent nearly an hour telling me about the campus and answering my questions about my program. When I left that day, I knew I’d found the place I wanted to be. If people on this campus were willing to go out of their way to accommodate a person who showed up on the wrong day, I had a feeling I just might fit in.

I wouldn’t be here today without Karin.

The second person who had a big impact on my time as a UW Tacoma student was Divya McMillin.

I first met Divya during an interview for Global Honors after I’d read about the program online and decided to apply. But gaining entrance to the program required a face-to-face interview, so I came down to campus and nervously sat in a tiny office with Divya and then-program coordinator Linda Gilbert, hoping to convince them I was a worthy candidate.

Wonder of wonders, in spite of my nerves and occasionally stumbled answers to their questions, I was admitted, and thus began a two year adventure that stretched my thinking, challenged my understanding of the world I thought I knew, and set me on the road to an internship at an international conference in Munich, a study abroad trip to Rome, a senior thesis that 6 years later is still among the top student downloads on the Digital Commons, and my first thoughts of someday attending graduate school. And behind all of those things was Divya’s encouragement and support. Although, as a non-traditional student, I thought that things like study abroad trips and internships were only for the young, Divya not only pointed me in the direction of opportunities that she felt I could benefit from but gave me the push I needed to reach for them. She agreed to become my thesis advisor, and then challenged me to write the best paper I’ve written to date. She also wrote one of the glowing recommendations that got me into graduate school.

I wouldn’t be here today without Divya.

The third person who has made a big difference in my educational journey is Anna Salyer. My first memory of Anna is at new student orientation in September of 2011. A tiny lady with long white hair and a blinding smile, she almost glows in the spotlight of my memory as she stands at the front of a room filled with computers (in the Science building, I think), walking a group of brand-new UWT students through the process of signing into the online library system for the first time. I met Anna again a few months later at the research desk. I had come for help in figuring out how to find the sources I needed for a paper, and her familiar face eased my nerves a bit. Her patience with my questions not only led me to the sources I needed to be successful in that paper—but through many projects that followed, including the paper that won me a UW library research award, my senior thesis, and a slew of graduate school papers. Anna’s assistance and wonderful letter of recommendation also helped me win a graduate research award, but most important, it’s brought me someone who has become a valued friend and colleague.

I wouldn’t be here today without Anna.

As a UWTacoma alumni and a current staff member, I think about these three people—and all the rest who have had a major impact on my life over the last 8 years—and I hope that one day, other students will be able to tell similar stories about me. I hope they’ll remember me as willing to listen and answer questions. I hope they’ll remember me as interested in their papers or projects. I hope they’ll say that my extension of friendship made a difference in their lives.

That they wouldn’t be here today without me.

Then, and only then, will I know that all I received here at UW Tacoma has been passed on, and I will have succeeded in what I set out to do.