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Ouachita Stories


Home – person, place, or thing?

Students gathered outside Evans Student CenterJanuary 23, 2024 - Brooke Zimny

When I first stepped foot on Ouachita’s campus, it just felt like home."

Many current students and alumni explain their journey to Ouachita with some version of this statement. In an interview, we would follow up with a question like, “But what made it feel like home?” After all, what is “home”? A place, a feeling, a person, a culture? It can be any of those – physical, personal, spiritual. It sometimes can be identified immediately – maybe a Proustian taste of an old family recipe – or it can take time to find.

I’m writing this from a new physical home in a new state as I conclude my service at Ouachita after nearly 20 years on campus. These existential questions understandably have been top of mind for me and my family lately. It’s an unsettling transition I’m sure most of you have navigated at some point, as well. I hope you’ll turn to page 8 to read Dr. Justin Hardin’s wise thoughts on the subject. As Ouachita’s recently minted vice president for academic affairs, he’s experienced more than his fair share of home- finding and -forming.

It’s also the time of year when hundreds of students are settling in to their college homes across the country. The energy of campus transforms with their arrival. And what a joy it is for Ouachita faculty and staff to watch and help each Tiger find their place physically, socially, spiritually.

You’ll meet several of these employees in this issue, some of whom have called Ouachita home for many years (like Dr. Caroline Taylor, Tim Harrell ’00 and Karen Matros ’92), and some who bring new perspectives and experiences to Ouachita (like Dr. Julyse Migan-Gandonou Horr). Also in this issue, we celebrate milestone accomplishments that form each of our personal stories, like Commencement, competitive and professional victories (an undergraduate success, alumni highlights and athletics honors) and of course Class Notes, which begins.

All these stories only scratch the surface of explaining what makes Ouachita home to so many. Maybe for you, like me, “Ouachita as home” has layers of meaning that build with time. However the years change me and add new lenses through which I’ll view the past, I know Ouachita will be a model of home that’s embedded in me forever.

Especially if you haven’t stopped by in a while, I hope you’ll plan to join us on campus soon to further your own evolving understanding of this place, this institution, this group of people. (Psst: Homecoming is right around the corner!) I’m willing to bet that a feeling of home will hit you one way or another. The Queen of the College World waits to greet you.


Brooke ZimnyBy Brooke (Showalter) Zimny ’08, Chief Marketing Officer






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