Sweet Memories of Dartmouth
Keith Harrison Tu '72 and his wife, Patricia, are the parents of twins, Katherine Harrison '06, an art history major, and Phillip Harrison '06, a Spanish major. Keith and Pat live in Fresno, California, where she is a middle school teacher and he owns and farms an orange grove.
I was a year out of undergraduate school when I went to Tuck. I had been a UCLA undergraduate. Tuck and Hanover were quite a change from UCLA and Los Angeles. While the classroom experience was extremely important, meeting my classmates and getting close to my professors were even more important. That was the best thing about the experience.
After Tuck I went to work for Bank of America in the San Francisco Bay area. I had been there about two years when my father passed away. He had been farming in Fresno. I had been married about two months. We came to Fresno and I became a farmer. This was a radical change for my wife and me. I wondered for a long time what all this Tuck education was doing out here, farming and irrigating and that sort of thing.
The transition to farming was hard and it was frustrating for a while, because I didn't feel like my education was paying dividends. A different set of skills was needed, and it was a skill set that I didn't really have. I had not grown up on that farm. We lived in town. My father was in another business and he acquired the farm as an investment and because he enjoyed it. At that time it was mostly deciduous tree fruit, peaches, plums, nectarines. There were also some naval oranges. It's about one hundred acres. I think my wife struggled with it too, for a lot of reasons. Farming is very risky, you don't know what the next year will bring. It was quite different from being a salaried employee.
Our twins, Phillip and Katherine, graduated from Dartmouth this year. My wife says they chose Dartmouth because of me. I had them dressed in little green T-shirts with Ds on them when they were two. They fell in love with Dartmouth on their own, however. I was always an enthusiastic supporter of it, but all along I knew Dartmouth was difficult to get into. But they did it. They had a lot of good choices but they both chose Dartmouth. It was very exciting for me. I always thought it would be thrilling if they could attend.
They had a lovely time. I know they're both very happy with their four years. I think what they most enjoyed about Dartmouth were the friendships. It was also the physical beauty of the campus, which was just a huge change from California. I'm sure it was also the classroom work and the professors. But I think what they enjoyed most was the community they were a part of. That was my experience, too.
Phillip is living in Fresno, working for a real estate company doing environmental hazard reports. I think he wants to attend either medical or dental school. That's what he's been talking about. Katherine lives in San Francisco and she works for Google.
The three of us went back to Homecoming Weekend. I know they were very excited about it. I think their friends are real important. The way they were able to make friends so easily and have such close friends, I think that's very common at Dartmouth. My wife couldn't go because she had to teach.
I recently contributed to Dartmouth because I am thankful for its impact on the lives of my twins and on my own life. We all have the sweetest memories imaginable. Dartmouth has truly been life changing for all of us. And I think for my wife, too, by association. I hope to continue to give for a long time and have tried to impress upon my son and daughter the importance of acquiring the habit of giving back. It was a very joyful check to sign. I wish I could have given more. And maybe someday I will. Who knows?
Dartmouth has gotten into our blood, and we feel like it's home in a way. I know that if you asked one hundred people about that, ninety of them would say pretty much the same thing. The memories are sweet and it draws you back.