2006-10-07 / Letters

Graduate Reflects on Mackinac College Experience

To the Editor:

In the spring of 1965, in my mid-30s, I accepted an invitation to join the support staff at Mackinac College, working on the supply vessel, Beaver, and other boats.

The following four years were a profound turning point in my life. I had the great privilege of being part of an amazing experiment in higher education, and of watching the students as they wrestled with the unique challenges which the College presented.

They came from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. Some were already involved in Moral Re-Armament, some had heard nothing about it and cared less. Some had many siblings, some had none. Some were privileged, some deeply deprived. But over time, they became in

many ways like a huge family, and, like families everywhere, they had days of contention and misunderstanding, days of triumph and moments of epiphany.

Through unforeseeable financial difficulties, the College was forced to close its doors in 1970, having flourished only four years and graduated just one class. But those young men and women, some of whom were only at Mackinac one or two years, proceeded to lead lives of service and accomplishment that stand unique in the annals of alumni rosters. That one graduating class published the only yearbook of the College. It closes with this grateful assessment:

"Most colleges give you an education for the rest of your life: Mackinac gave us a life for the rest of our education."

One remarkable result of that one brief shining moment: Every four or five years since 1980 they have returned for a weekend to the Island they love, to reconnect, to share their lives and memories, to focus again on the implications of the College motto, "To Learn, To Live, To Lead."

As you may know, Mr. Editor, another of those "family" reunions is just around the corner, in October, at the site of their alma mater now known as Mission Point Resort.

I would urge you to set aside a little time to be with them, to listen and absorb first hand the vibrations, the magnetism which draws them together. Your friend Frank Straus might find it instructive as well. As for him, I have this comment:

Those who would denigrate hope, who would sneer at the spark of inspiration that was ignited all those years ago and burns yet today, remind me of the old Arabic proverb, "The village dogs may bark, but the camel train moves on."

Bill McLaughry Castle Rock, Colorado

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