I didn’t think I’d be one of those dads, but as the possibility of my eldest studying at my alma mater became real, an unexpected tide of emotion guided my actions in the months leading up to her first term away from home.
I never wanted to live my life vicariously through her. Loughborough University from 1991 to 1995 was a different time, and we do different things. However, what I realised is that what I wanted for her was a sense of happiness and challenge from one of the world’s best institutions for her subject. This is what I had experienced, and so as with many ill informed conversations about Higher Education, it was my only reference point for many years.
The Higher Education team at Shrewsbury is far from ill-informed. Ms Dunnham’s arrival offers the students an additional US counsellor to compliment the legendary Ms Overton and the extraordinary Ms Fretwell, Ms Walker and Mr Markes. The knowing looks I’ve had from them all tell me they understand the ‘legacy’ concept as much as any parent.
Recently Mr Markes and I met some Shrewsbury alumni mums. Extraordinary people from a time when Shrewsbury was in its infancy, with clear and cherished memories of a very special time. They are curious and forensic in looking to understand what has changed at Shrewsbury over time, and especially keen to hear where Shrewsbury is going in the future. In them I saw myself, loving parents looking to provide the best possible life chances for their children.
I met my wife at Loughborough, and Shrewsbury has also had its first Shrewsbury wedding. Selection of Alumni of the Year for 2020 (soon to be announced) took a very short time this year as incredible achievements now litter this widening and ever growing family. Each year it will get easier to celebrate the achievements of our incredible alumni, and we will be filled with pride in all that they do.
In turn alumni can often underestimate their impact on current students. The role modelling is obvious, but sometimes self deprecation can miss the inspiration our alumni offer. Knowing and understanding what our alumni are doing shapes our strategic planning, it informs us about how to prepare young people better, and bring joy and pride to all those connected.
Mature schools with well organised and passionate alumni associations offer certainty, diversity and inspiration. The pull of the old school becomes stronger as we get older, broader and better. Our alumni association, SISBAA, is a key part of who we are, and will be a key part of where we are going. I look forward to meeting many more alumni mums and dads in the future.