Experience Ithaca College in Six Words

By Tom Rochon

Ernest Hemingway once wrote a six-word short story (supposedly in response to a bar bet): “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.” In later years he claimed it was his best work.

Like haiku, the six-word short story has become a literary feat that many have tried to master. John Updike wrote one as follows: “I’m sorry.” “What for?” “Never mind.”

That got me thinking—wouldn’t it be great if IC alumni could distill their specific memories or overall experiences of the College into their own six-word stories? I invite you to undertake this exercise and post the results below in the comments area.

To prime the pump, I solicited six-word stories from some of the alumni I am privileged to correspond with on a regular basis. Some responded by recalling the sense of awakening that occurred during their time on the IC campus.

Ed Rivera ’88, former alumni trustee, thought back to his journey from New York City public housing to Ithaca College, where he had the opportunity to explore subjects and perspectives that he didn’t previously know existed. He wrote: The entire world in four years.

Thad Fortin ’81 channeled Julius Caesar to write, I arrived, I grew, ALWAYS remembered.

Bob Kur ’70, a recently retired member of the Board of Trustees, also focused on the physical and intellectual environment: Surrounded by beauty, challenge, and opportunity.

Given our mission as a comprehensive college that combines liberal arts with professional education, it is not surprising that others among our alumni emphasized the impact their IC experience had in launching them into their subsequent lives and careers.

Mark Dicker ’77, an alumni trustee, wrote, Ithaca College: where life’s journey develops.

Tom Grape ’80, currently on the Board of Trustees, responded to the query with, Spreading my wings. To where? Life.

Bob Iger ’73, CEO of Disney, wrote, Ithaca College lives in me today.

A third dominant theme is the sense of community that our alumni encountered at IC and the persistence of that community in the form of lifelong friendships.

David Giannotti, a trustee from the class of ’69, penned, Intellectual awakening. Delta Kappa, lifelong friendships.

David Bachrach ’70 referenced a specific form of lifelong friendship that often seems to originate at IC: Got education. And wife. Life’s good.

Joel Reitman ’78 managed to squeeze both themes of community and life preparation into just six words: Great school, special friends, fulfilling career.

Of course, not all six-word recollections fit neatly into a few themes. There are so many possibilities present within an Ithaca College education that inevitably the experience is highly individualized, depending on your personality and what you are looking for.

Larry Alleva ’71, who recently retired from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, drew on his training as an accountant by including some mathematical symbols in his six-word description: Distinctive learning + lifelong friendships = real-world preparation.

Chris Burch ’76, the creative marketing mastermind behind the Tory Burch fashion label, wrote, creative impactful fun collaborative exciting friendship.

Lee Bird ’86, former president of Nike Affliates, offered two six-word stories reflecting the life lessons learned from his experiences as a student at IC and as an athlete on the swim team.

From his academic life experience he wrote, Academic excellence is related to effort. (Lee says that he experimented with a high effort semester and a low effort semester and found this out.)

And from his athletic life, he noted, Hair can freeze after swim practice.

CCH Pounder ’75, an actress and activist who starred in ER and Avatar, was born in South America and educated in British boarding schools before coming to IC. She wrote, Foreign student assimilating nicely, misses home.

How about you? What is the essence of your IC experience, distilled into six words? I hope you will share them in the comments section below.  You can also read the 6-word stories submitted via Twitter here:



I learned. I ran. Life began

I found you; you found me.


Ithaca College. Life changing. Thank you.

Arrived naive. Departed prepared, inquisitive, loved.


A TREASURE to behold for ETERNITY!

Debbie Blonder Pshtissky, '75, Speech Pathology/Audiology

Best four years of my life.

Ithaca College taught me to dream.

The Best Years Of My Life

Arrived mute, Ithaca gave me voice.

Best Decision I Have Ever Made

Left everything I knew; found myself.

Water, Air, Earth. Wine, Women, Song.

Past, present, future, beloved friends forever

opened my heart to the world

Weatherman's nightmare. Key to my dreams.

Hard work, look what we accomplished

Lyon, Pesaresi, Green winning football teams

Jim Whalen. My mentor. Miss him.

Recently retired music teacher - thanks, I.C.!

put me where I am today

Performance Matters. Artistically, Academically and Collaboratively.

Brought out the leader in me