(Re)kindling the Fire
From the first meeting on Trips to the Commencement ceremony many terms later, Dartmouth holds a myriad of opportunities for creating relationships with peers. Within the individual pathways at the College lies the shared student experience of navigating the beginning of adult life. Dartmouth students work to fulfill their academic requirements but also to maintain the fire that sparked their relationships with others on campus.
Now in their final year at Dartmouth, Laura Lewin ’20 and Callie Page ’20 reflected on their Dartmouth friendship. Brought together through a close mutual friend, Lewin recalled the initial group setting of their relationship.
“It took us a while to understand and fully appreciate each other inside our own friendship. Callie and I have had the chance to grow as friends, in addition to remaining very close with our original group,” Lewin said.
Page said that she believes a key component of their early relationship was their ability to sustain it in both a group and one-on-one setting. Learning to grow as friends without becoming dependent on each other propelled their friendship into the coming terms and years at Dartmouth. The College’s unique D-Plan of required time on campus and varying options for off-terms presented the challenge of staying connected while being miles apart.
“We talked a lot during our off-terms, my time studying abroad and sophomore summer, and so in that way, the D-Plan was a good test run for the real world,” Lewin said.
Through the differences in their D-Plans, Lewin and Page were tested by an obstacle that many real-world relationships face. Sustaining their relationship despite their physical seperation required putting significant effort into their communication.
“When Callie studied abroad in Costa Rica, I remember the difficulty in staying in contact. We would send messages in our group chat — knowing she couldn’t answer — but hoped for her to come back to campus as soon as she could,” Lewin said.
Both a trial for the real world and a struggle for communication, the College’s D-Plan forced Lewin and Page to put extra effort into their relationship, according to the pair. Lewin and Page both remain optimistic for the continuation of their individual and group friendships after departing the College.
“Laura is so witty and honest. I can truly say there has never been a dull moment in our friendship, and I do not think there ever will be,” Page said.
Lewin said she believes that their friendship will continue to flourish even as they begin their lives as adults post college.
“After Dartmouth, I can very well see each of us pursuing different career paths and still finding the time to take the weekend off and see and enjoy each other’s company,” Lewin said.
The Alumni Relations Office may also play a role in sustaining student friendships. Following life at Dartmouth, the Alumni Relations Office works to keep alumni connected to one another and the Dartmouth community itself. From returning to the College on Homecoming to traveling across the world with fellow alumni on Dartmouth Alumni Travel, relationships, past and present, hold the steadfast ability to grow after their time on campus.
Former president of the Dartmouth Alumni Council Jennifer Avellino ’89 said that the Dartmouth community continues to play a role in her life following her departure from the College.
“I think that because of the Dartmouth family — that sense of closeness that we all have with each other in the alumni body — more Dartmouth relationships flourish,” Avellino said.
Avellino said her relationship with fellow classmate and now husband Zachary Levine ’89 enriches the connectivity of their own Dartmouth family.
Married three years following Commencement, Levine said that he and Avellino continue to remain in close contact with many Dartmouth alumni. He said that their relationship with the College and its community has grown through the journey of their daughter, Julia Levine, who is a member of the Class of 2023.
“For me, it is amazing to see how well Julia has fit into Dartmouth. It is truly her place and as a parent of a student, I am rediscovering a place I love and thought I knew so well. She is having her own Dartmouth experience, which is what makes the College so special,” Levine said.
Seeing Dartmouth through a new lens, Avellino and Levine share a new experience in reliving their love of the College. In addition to being connected to Dartmouth through their time as students, they now relate to Dartmouth as alumni and parents as well.
Engaging in similar courses of study, sharing on and off-campus living, and participating in student organizations provide Dartmouth students with the opportunity to construct sincere relationships. The College’s D-Plan tests the strength of students’ friendships and forces them to face the challenges of adult relationships. While Lewin and Page were able to sustain, and even strengthen, their relationship in spite of the Dartmouth D-Plan, not all friendships can overcome the obstacle of seperation. However, through shared experiences and the strength of the Dartmouth community, students at the College can remain linked for life.
“Overall, I see our time here at Dartmouth as true preparation for adulthood. Sadly, not all relationships and friendships continue after college, but there will always be a shared memory of experience at Dartmouth,” Page said.