Thanks to the generous support of young alumni, Hamilton is pleased to name Daniel Hagemeier '12 of Schlossborn, Germany as its 21st GOLD Scholar. Daniel recently sat down to reflect on his Hamilton experience so far, and here's what he shared.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Schlossborn, a little town in Germany even smaller than Clinton. We did not have anything there except for a bakery, a tiny grocery store, some restaurants and a soccer place. When I was in primary school, all the boys were on the soccer team, which helped me to forge new friendships. Some of these friendships have lasted till today. I eventually left the soccer team, however, and turned my attention to tennis. Later, in middle and high school, I made new friends with students from other towns in the area. At the same time, the friendships I had in my hometown have always made me feel at home there. Throughout my time in Schossborn I was always eager to make the next step. The speed I lacked on the soccer field I made up for in my ambitions.
Describe your parents and/or family members?
I have been blessed with great parents and a wonderful sister. My mom and dad were always there to provide support, sometimes at the expense of their other obligations. My parents explained the world to my sister and me and helped us to grow up as open, friendly and healthy people.
My mom is passionate, very talented and unbelievably strong. I still do not know how she manages to take care of our dog, our house, the garden, and all our little and big problems. She possesses all the wisdom one can never learn in school but is necessary in life and has sacrificed much of her personal ambition for our family. I am only slowly beginning to pay back these debts. My dad has always impressed me with his enthusiasm for his job. He alone cares financially for our family and has built up his business with over 25 years of hard work. His dedication and passion are an inspiration to me. My sister and I grew up close, but we became true friends about four years ago, sharing interests, thoughts, problems and friends. She is in Italy right now pursuing her dreams with great accomplishment. Her caring and helpful nature leads her to balance the relationships between her friends and her family, which impresses me because it is so much harder to do than it sounds.
What was high school like? What were your favorite activities?
High school was fun. I found great friends and the hard work we had during that time brought us all closer together. There were 76 students in our graduating class. High school for me was shaped by studying for the Abitur (our German graduation exam which is much harder than anything students in the U.S. know, sorry but it's true), establishing real friendships, beginning to drive and experiencing the glories of that enormous new freedom, and revolting against certain school officials. In particular, I loved working on our graduation yearbook and participating in writing workshops. Other than that, however, German schools do not offer many activities, so our free time was mainly shaped by going to cafes. I was driven by what my friends did and what they accomplished and by enthusiastic professors such as my English teacher who never followed the syllabus but always taught us something we could use in real life. Experiences like that really helped us to learn.
How did you discover Hamilton?
I have a good friend from Germany whose mother went here over 25 years ago and whose father helped me work through the college application jungle. They suggested Hamilton. I loved the idea of an open curriculum and I really wanted to come to a small liberal arts college in the United States. When decision time rolled around, Hamilton turned out to be the best fit and I did not wait long to accept the offer of admission.
What were your first impressions of the College? Do you find they're still true today?
It was a beautiful day when I arrived, but we all know the weather on the Hill can be a little, well, you know. Other than that, however, Hamilton has lived up to my expectations. My first impression was that many people are nice, and they are, and not just the students and professors but also the whole staff of people who work at Hamilton, from the facility managers to the people in the various offices or the personnel in Commons, everyone has been really friendly and welcoming. I liked most of my first classes and thought the professors were great. I find Hamilton challenging but not too difficult. I enjoy the variety of extracurricular activities as well. I cannot say much about the frat party scene as I don't really participate.
What are three defining elements of your time on the Hill?
- Sakhile Matlhare '10, whom I met only a few days after Adirondack Adventure. She is caring, smart, active and enthusiastic. She knows half the campus personally and welcomes everybody with open arms. She doesn't do handshakes, she does hugs. She helped me through my first few months here and is a great source of help and support, personally and academically.
- Friends. At first I had some trouble finding really good friends, and I often tried to compare my new friends to my friends from back home. But after my first semester I learned to let go of this habit and I have found a great group of friends. It makes the whole experience so much greater.
- Eating in Commons. It's just such a social meeting point. If only the food...it just really is not anything like my mom's food.
Which Hamilton Professor has inspired you? Why?
Many. Professor Del Buono really helped with my general communication skills and public speaking in particular. He is a great professor and makes public speaking fun for everybody, even if you feel really uncomfortable talking in front of people. He also taught me the importance of remembering something about every person I meet, other than just his or her name. I was also deeply impressed by Professor Scott MacDonald's fascination and enthusiasm for film, I loved dog sitting for Professor Onno Oerlemans, I laughed about Professor Kantrowitz's great sense of humor, and I learned to enjoy reading Shakespeare in Professor Strout's class.
Have you volunteered as a student?
I regularly volunteer at the local animal shelter, Spring Farm, which I was introduced to by a couple of friends. I usually play with the only big dog they have, throwing the ball around for a couple hours. He doesn't grow tired of it and neither do I. Playing with a dog is an amazing experience, and if I can get him to have fun for a few hours, that is a great feeling. After all, I am having fun as well!
What are your plans after Hamilton?
I want to pursue a career in sports journalism as I love watching, reading and learning about sports. I also enjoy writing and would relish the opportunity to be present for history in the making. Ideally I would like to live somewhere where it is warm, perhaps a city that is not too intimidating, but big enough to enjoy the benefits of urban life. San Francisco? On the other hand, I'd love to live in New York City for a while – it seems like an exciting place to be
What advice or perspective would you share with alumni?
Thanks a lot for your support and contact me when you come on campus so we can meet in person!
Gold Scholars is an initiative supported by the Annual Fund, which has always provided direct support for the College's most important current priorities, especially scholarship aid. Starting this year, gifts from the GOLD Group – Graduates of the Last Decade – will specifically support students on campus. With each $15,000 increment collectively contributed, the College will select a student as a GOLD Scholar for 2008-09.