I first visited Hamilton at the age of 12. My great-uncle, William “Mac” Bristol III ’43, wanted me to see his alma mater, and love, before he died. I was lucky to have Mac for five more years and to hear much more about Hamilton College. At first glance Mac seemed a serious man, exuding tenacity and command, but when he joked, the sides of his mouth would slowly curl up and his eyes twinkled. Around the dinner table he would regale our family with stories about climbing trees and swimming with his cousins during visits to his grandmother as a youth, about his experiences fighting on Iwo Jima, and of course, about his fun (and hard work) at Hamilton. Throughout my childhood, Hamilton was a faraway, mystical land that, in Mac’s words, would take “hard work and determination” to reach.
When I drove up the Hill as a high school junior on my college search two years ago, I scrutinized Hamilton more critically than any other prospect. I would attend whatever school was my best fit, no matter what Mac, my idol, wanted. I was surprised and thrilled, then, when I realized that Hamilton had everything I was seeking: an emphasis on writing, no core curriculum, a small and friendly community. Although Mac did not live to see my acceptance into Hamilton, I remember his pride when I showed him my list of possible schools — Hamilton with a bold star.
Mac has often been on my mind in my first year on the Hill. I was reminded of his voice in the fall as our class gathered in the auditorium and we were commended for our “hard work and determination.” I picture him sitting in some of the same buildings and classrooms where I sit now. Instead of the distant, magical place that I knew through Mac, Hamilton has become my home. I have loved my classes and the swim team, my professors and my friends. Every time I see Mac’s name around campus I feel a surge of love for him and am reminded of how proud I am to be part of the Hamilton community.