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Postgrad: Jamie Sokol ’05

Jamie graduated in 2005 with a BA in Health and Society and a minor in Psychology. While at Rochester, she was an editor of the Campus Times and served as a research assistant at the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center. After graduation, she earned a master’s degree in public health from the University of Pittsburgh. Currently, she works for the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in the Bureau of Tobacco Control. This blog post is part of a continuing series about Jamie, her time at the University of Rochester, and her life post-graduation.

By Jamie Sokol

4,000 Big (or Small)

From time to time, I have the opportunity to represent the University at college fairs around New York City. What a great experience! Not only does it keep me active in the U of R community, but it gives me a chance to get the word out to students who may not necessarily have Rochester on their radar. While the types of questions thrown at me over the course of a couple of hours certainly run the gamut, there’s one that almost everyone seems to ask: How big is Rochester, really?

Recently, I stopped to think about this question, realizing that my standard answer of “big enough that you’ll recognize everyone, but still meet new people at graduation” may not necessarily do justice. I came to Rochester thinking that roughly 4,000 undergrads was the perfect size—and for me, it was. But the longer I’m away from college, the more I realize that there’s more to size than numbers.

The U of R shares its size—in terms of both land and student body—with many of its peer institutions. But I’m pretty sure the similarities end there. What sets Rochester apart is that its size, like so many aspects of college life, is continually changing. It seems immense when you get there, small when you’re stuck in the library during finals, and somewhere in between on a daily basis. And in the alumni world, the U of R community is impressively large.

Recently, the University has expanded its reach in the Rochester community with the Brooks Landing project—slowly but surely transforming the 19th Ward into a thriving community with great potential for economic growth. Partnerships are forming, businesses are opening, and an area that was once avoided by members of the UR community is now a place that students and faculty call home. The UR community is growing—and at the same time, still feels small.

I suppose that’s somewhat of a Rochester paradox: For a relatively small place, its network extends across the globe. (Or, you could look at it this way: We’re all over the world, but the U of R is an incredibly close-knit community). I challenge you all to think about the best way to define our size…and maybe I’ll find a better answer to give at college fairs!

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