I must admit when I first graduated from Oakwood most of my reflections about the place were about the awesome people and their diversity. The wealth of information that comes from having a diverse community, all of which I still stand by. However, having gotten older I tend to reflect now more on the philosophy of Oakwood, its mission and how it fits into what seems at times to be such a chaotic society. Oakwood Friends School, guided by Quaker principles, educates and strengthens young people for lives of conscience, compassion and accomplishment. Students experience a challenging curriculum within a diverse community, dedicated to nurturing the spirit, the scholar, the artist and the athlete in each person. As a mother these words resonate. What other school is concerned not only about your learning but about your compassion and nurturing your spirit? I want my children to be the best of themselves not some cookie cutter model student.
Looking back on my time at Oakwood that is exactly what they did for me. I came to Oakwood as an eager high school freshmen determined to get into The United States Military Academy, although this was not the ‘Quaker Way’. I spent four years at Oakwood where, instead of them telling me how my dreams were too big, not a right fit or unattainable, they taught me how to follow my passion, to be deliberate in my actions, to dream, to plan and execute, allowing me to become the First African American in New York State to graduate from West Point. Today I find myself working for Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc. a not for profit organization that is founded on the principals of creating a just New York for all. We act to overcome the prejudices and poverty that degrade and debilitate people within rural New York by building communities that celebrate diversity, achieve true mutuality and fight for dignity and opportunity to all. So in reflecting, Oakwood gave me the safe space to not be afraid to take risks, stand up for myself, and be passionate. Oakwood allowed me the supportive environment to develop into a better me and for that I am forever grateful.