Earlier this week I (groggily) returned from my first ever National Physical Therapy Conference in Vegas. The trip ended up being great for making connections, learning new Physical Therapy and having a fun getaway in the crazy city of Las Vegas.
At an evening reception on Tuesday night, I had my first contact with Ithaca College faculty since graduating from college 15 years ago.
Two of my prior professors, Dr. Pagliarulo and Dr. Andrew Robinson were at the small evening gathering held for Ithaca college graduates and students. I had hopes of seeing some old college friends, but none were present.
I walked alone into the reception with my "Zoya class of '99" nametag hoping to see a familiar face, but there were none. I made my way to get a glass of wine and a plate of fabulous cheeses, salami and bread and continued to look for familiar faces. The awkwardness disappeared as I quickly realized that others there felt the same way, they smiled and we all looked at each others name tags for the graduation years. They didn't know anyone either.
As we warmed up to one another, I gradually perceived this innate connection with the other Ithaca College grads that I couldn't put my finger on. It dawned on me that I didn't realize (until that moment) how much sharing an alma matter was a common denominator which made striking up conversation so easy.
I talked at length with a guy from Chicago who graduated a few years after me and we talked about our careers, families and reflected back on college. We shared stories about professors…and advisors. I told him the story of my advisor who would call me into her office quarterly and scare the begeezus out of me…She'd ask, "How are you doing Zoya? Seems like this quarter has been hard for you, etc…"
She made me wonder if I would ever survive PT school. But I was so determined to finish and succeed.
At the end of the evening, Dr. Pagliarulo arrived; he was the department chair when I was at Ithaca. Seeing him was like putting on a worn, familiar glove. His smile and kindness were just as real as 15 years ago. I had lots of struggles in college with surviving the intense physical therapy program, and I always remembered Dr. P as someone who was kind and positive and rooting for me.
That night, I felt as though I had come full circle. I couldn't help think, "My life is what it is now because these professors believed in me, taught me and guided me." It was a humbling moment of realizing where I was and who had helped me get there.
I asked if there have been other Alaska students in the program and they said no; I am the only one.
As the evening wrapped up and I headed back to my room, I was glad to have that long awaited moment over with; when I connected with my Ithaca College Roots once again.
|Dr. Pagliarulo and I at the Ithaca College Reception|
|Nora and Stuey would've LOVED these!|
|meanwhile, I loved this….I enjoyed a margarita made with the infusion from jalepenos and oranges.|
|The indoor "sky" at the Venetian Hotel|