A Dream Delivered: JanNet Launches By Jan Haman


        For some time now it has been a dream, a goal of mine, to somehow link up Dublin alums of color with current Dublin students of color in a way that the alumni could serve as a resource for those students. Over many years I have watched those very graduates struggle at times with issues that arise when trying to adjust to life in a predominately white boarding school in rural New Hampshire. (That "rural" part can sometimes be a "problem.") I have been haunted by a note I stumbled across in the file of the late Nitza Delgado Hollinger '82 in which she wrote about her initial response upon arriving at Dublin.
       “The drive to Dublin in the borrowed station wagon was five hours. The further we drove, the smaller the cities became. They seemed to be small towns tucked away in the country. Five hours later, my family and I stepped out of the wagon. A September chill was in the air; I knew New Hampshire was going to be cold. My father and brother carried my trunk up the stairs of The Wing. I carried my suitcase. In these two pieces of luggage I brought the essentials which included: five wool skirts, three jeans, two pairs of high heels, a pair of hiking boots, a lamp, a dictionary, and Elements of Style.
         I met my roommate who had arrived earlier that day. She greeted me. I took the leftover bed. I noticed she had blond hair and hazel eyes. Her closet was full and in the corner there were several pairs of skis and a pair of snowshoes. The snowshoes scared me. I was sure that I was not prepared for the months ahead.
        “Benediction mami, benediction papi!”
         It was September and I was only thirteen. I had never left the City. The Church was the center of my life. I still had my summer tan, which accentuated my brown skin, black hair, and brown eyes . . . I did not have much and I came from a different world. I came from one experience and now I had to become familiar with a different experience. I never felt inferior, just different and silent.”
       Nitza went on to earn a B.A. from Dartmouth and later a Juris Doctor degree from Northeastern University School of Law. She lived a full life with her husband and children in Alaskan practicing law and teaching. We shared teaching stories at least once a year until her death last Summer after a long battle with cancer.
        I have seen alums like Nitza suffer through bouts of extreme homesickness, listened to their small and sometimes large problems, sympathized with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. But I have also observed their determination to succeed, laboring to earn good grades, and very often achieving leadership roles in our Dublin community, going on to prestigious colleges and universities.
      I have also watched some fail. At those times I wondered if things might have gone differently if they had had a mentor, someone with shared experiences to whom they might have turned. So, about six months ago, I began to talk to alums ranging from 1975 to 2005, and pitched them this idea of becoming a resource for our students. Not one alum turned me down; still it took time to put it all together.
       The result is the JanNet brochure which has now been disseminated to all current students of color. It lists 20 alumni, their emails and phone numbers, the college they attended, where they presently reside and their employers. It's an “elegant” list, representing fine, successful adults from across the U.S.
      What surprised me most was not only their enthusiasm to be part of this project and their immediate response about the need for such a resource, but their wish to come to Dublin and meet the students they might help!  Two weeks ago, on Reunion Weekend, ten of the twenty “JanNetters” came back and met with our students. For almost two hours they spoke together, (I was not present) in the Reunion tent over Brunch, and exchanged information and thoughts and got to know each other a little.
       Now the “JanNetters” are waiting to hear from our students, and in some cases even contacting them first. Advice on summer jobs, internships and college choices are areas they would like to assist our students with as well. They would also like to be a resource for parents, hence the brochure is available to parents, too.
      It's a beginning. Just a beginning. I think Nitza would approve.