UB Today Alumni Magazine Online - Winter 2000
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COVER STORY
Raising the Barre

FEATURES
Distance Learning

Alumni Mementos

Manic Depression

Reflections

Play Ball!





A native of Scarborough, Ontario, Beena Ahmad, editor-in-chief of the Spectrum in 1999-2000, received her B.A. in English from UB in May. Her goals include pursuing a newspaper internship, magazine feature writing, and a life spent "soaking up experiences."



 


 




Student Reflections

By Beena Ahmad, '00

ive years ago, they arrived from all over. Like love notes from suitors wooing the belle of the ball, glossy packages of varying shapes and sizes saturated my mailbox every day. Invitations requesting my presence at special functions, enticing me to take weekend excursions.
    It's a rite of passage of sorts, receiving one's very own junk mail. The first time the world noticed me was the spring before my junior year of high school. Brochures piled high on my desk and spilled over the floor, carpeting my room with a patchwork of college logos.

photo by: Frank Miller
Somewhere in this sea of debris, my mother would find me wading through cities, campuses and happy smiling faces caught up in moments of experience.
    I lived vicariously through those pages, seeking the possibilities-adventure? comradeship?-I'd never realized in high school. And somehow I felt those photogenic faces held the answers to what I might become if I just picked the right place.
    Through my college search, like a search for shoes, I tried on several schools for size, appeal and comfort. I imagined myself in NYU's lecture halls, in the giant chemistry laboratories at Columbia, in Cornell's wood-paneled library; flanked by friends at a Michigan football game, or meeting someone in Central Park between classes or at a New Brunswick corner near Rutgers for ice cream.
    Strangely, while the sophisticated waterfront pictures from Boston University's catalog and the holographic emblem on Duquesne's high-end brochure remain fresh in my memory, nothing out of the ordinary comes to mind when I try to recall UB's promotional material. I'm sure I found places like Baird Point and Hayes Hall charming with their classical Roman and Greek elegance. The shiny pages probably glowed with inspiring professors unveiling the secrets of complex molecular reactions to intrigued students; culture and art captured in a moment of motion on a university stage; the requisite snapshots of happy college students just, well, being college students. What was it about UB that captured my imagination?
    Looking back, I realize my college career reads like a personal success story. I learned I didn't need to strive to become a mediocre scientist because I found out I belonged in the English department. I joined the Spectrum to pursue a hobby and ended up finding a career. But when I was a freshman, I didn't know the great things that lay ahead. And I didn't know I might one day question whether I would lose something by gaining more than I ever expected out of college.
    Earlier this year, a friend and I were walking along the UB spine on our way to my Hadley Village apartment. As we paused in Capen Hall, I looked up and one of the giant photographs on the wall suddenly caught my eye. I found myself thinking, Did I lose sight of my one goal?
    The fleeting thought startled me. In a sense, I sacrificed my last year of college to the Spectrum by assuming the position of editor-in-chief. (How many "normal" students spend their days talking to the university administrators about the school's budget and their nights scanning for commas in stories about parking lots?)
    As senior year winds down, I've been asking myself whether I've experienced my fair share not just of college, but of UB in particular. Joining the Spectrum was never part of my initial plan, but it's become such a part of me that I can't help wondering if it's replaced something else, something more simple-and desirable for that simplicity.
    Gazing at that Capen Hall photo of three girls cheering wildly in their UB sweatshirts, I remembered a few football games my friends and I had attended in our sophomore year to combat our own apathy. We'd realized we didn't have the right to whine-from the confines of a Governors dorm room-about being bored on campus, complaining there was nothing to do around here. As a UB player tackled the other guy, I found myself on my feet screaming with my friends. I don't even like football.
    A fellow chemistry student and I once attempted to memorize the structures of all 21 amino acids in the beautiful Health Sciences Library on the South Campus. We accomplished little, but we must have looked the picture of diligence. I've been to enough Center for the Arts events to appreciate the beauty of college theater. I still make time to lounge around with a few good friends, doing nothing in particular but, well, being ourselves.
    In brief snapshots, my "moments of experience," I've still played the average college kid in khakis, a hooded sweatshirt, or "going out" clothes, at Alumni Arena, in a Milton class, or in my dorm room. Maybe what I was hoping for, back when I was knee-deep in college logos in my room at home, was just what I've had here: a series of moments where we play the part until we mold ourselves into the role so well that we can't even see ourselves as the camera sees us.
    All I ever wanted was the average college experience, which I think may be why I chose Buffalo and UB-a fairly typical state university in an "All-America City." Somewhere along the way, certain key decisions made UB become so much more than just another typical university to me. The PR photos came to life, and now I'm the one who's smiling.

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