News of the Alumni Association 2001
  Alumni president explains everything

next pageLink to Table of Contents page 
Link to Reed Mag  Home


John Sheehy ’82

John Sheehy pictureFor the past three years the Reed alumni association has been conducting oral history interviews of alumni from the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s. Aside from colorful tales of pranks, political intrigue, and creative anarchy, there is one common theme that emerges from the interviews across the years—no one leaves Reed College quite the same as when they entered it.

The college clearly leaves its mark, the impression deeper on some more than others. The interviews point to a familiar pattern. First comes the “high bird call”—people who have mentored or observed you in your quirky adolescence start whispering about Reed College, as though it were part of a secret society.

Next, you arrive and for the first time in your short life you feel you’ve found a place where you’re accepted, intellectual quirks and all (60 years later people still break into tears remembering that sense of belonging).

Then comes the whirling blender of the Reed experience —humanities, socials, junior quals, thesis, orals—and soon you’re spit out into the world. Some colleges serveas transitional way stationsto some place else—grad school, a career ladder, worldly success—best left behind on a list of credentials.

Not Reed. Once you leave Reed College there is no denying to yourself—or to the world at large—that you have been somewhere. The fact that you went to Reed becomes shorthand for people trying to size you up. “Yes,” they mutter cautiously, “that explains everything.”

My favorite question in the oral history interviews is the last one: “What lasting impact has Reed had on your life?” There are variations, but the answer is almost always the same. Robert Shellow ’51 neatly summed it up when he said,“I have never been able to look at the world the same way.”

That sense of transformation, of belonging, of having at one time in your life been somewhere, is what our alumni association is all about. We are that secret society.

One of the things we do is gather in various get-togethers throughout the country. The other thing we do is volunteer our time helping the newlyinitiated to our society with things like admission and career counseling. If you’re looking for ways that youcan reconnect with the world of Reed, please call the alumni relations office at 503/777-7589.

End of Article


Reed Magazine Footer


next page Link to Table of Contents page 
Link to Reed Mag  Home