The common thread By Mariel Betancourt
Honoring the relationships that started at Ohio University
As far as friendships go, college is the golden age of connections.
It's where we make friends for life, join groups that define us for years and sometimes, fall in love with our future spouse or meet the perfect business partner.
Friendships have long fascinated Stocker Professor of
Communication Studies William Rawlins, who has studied them for more than 30 years and is the author of "Friendship Matters." He is well aware of the significance of college as a particularly vibrant time for new friendships.
"People make a lot of the friends who stand the greatest chance of being sustained across their lives during college," Rawlins says. "There's good reason for that. Students are all pretty well in the same boat. They've got classes together and similar schedules. They're learning things, and they’re figuring out who they are. There's really something to be said for being in these similar circumstances."
If only the same could be said about the years that follow graduation. Friendships often unravel as we find ourselves scattered across the country, navigating complex work environments and social worlds that are usually quite different from our friends' new experiences.
But true friends find a way to hang on. Friends, Rawlins says, grant each other two freedoms: the freedom to be independent and the freedom to be dependent. Friends need each other, but also need their space to grow. "This is one of the mysteries of friendship," he says.
In this series of stories, Ohio Today celebrates the connections that have survived graduation, the friendships that have strengthened, and the unbreakable bonds that had college as their starting point. Whether they play out in cyberspace -- where one group of alums connects for a good cause -- or at annual golf outings, the friendships in this series have one thing in common: They all call Ohio University home.
"I think wise people -- and what I teach seriously, what I stress to my students -- form the habit of making a place for friends in their lives," Rawlins says.
The common thread series:
This feature in the fall/winter issue of Ohio Today, being distributed this week, celebrates several relationships that had Ohio University as their starting point. Tomorrow we’ll share the final vignette from this series. The rest of the installments are below:
Love is in the air -- and the newsroom too
Meet Bruce and Deb (Emil) Jorgensen, winners of the Ohio University Alumni Association's Couples Contest.
Fifty years of friendship
Inspired by their years of glory at Ohio University and Coach Bob Wren, a group of athletes continues to reunite
Across the miles, alumni give images new life
Inspired by VisCom alumna Becky Sell, Operation Photo Rescue volunteers have restored more than 1,500 photos.
Flying home, with all the latest technologies
A collaboration between Boeing and the Avionics Engineering Center helps Tim Murphy, MSEE '84, keep in touch with his alma mater.
A true friend makes her mark
Alumni talk about the friend they'll never forget -- and the unique scholarship that will honor her memory.
The fine art of inspiration
Two alumni discover that words of encouragement are a gift best shared with others.
Where are they now? Still making music, of course
They may no longer live in Athens, but one band proves its musicians still have that '80s touch.
Mariel Betancourt, MS '07, is associate editor of Ohio Today.