Sweet Briar comes to R-MC

As summer comes to a close, students around the country are getting ready to head back to school, and some students may be embarking upon bigger transitions than others. Several former Sweet Briar students have decided to make the brave move to continue furthering their education at Randolph-Macon College this year.

As most people know, Sweet Briar College—located in Sweet Briar, VA— announced this past spring that they would close their campus permanently after the 2014 – 2015 school year. The school’s Board of Directors decided to close the school immediately due to severe financial issues.

After Sweet Briar’s former president, James Jones, shared the upsetting news with the student body, the Sweet Briar community came together to fight back and save the college. In other words, fundraising and alumnae efforts occurred alongside several lawsuits. Additionally, the college’s alumni group, Saving Sweet Briar, Inc., helped to raise about $16 million in an effort to save the college.

As a result, the all-women’s college, which has been open for 114 years, has been saved from permanent closing. However, the school will return with a much smaller faculty and student body.

Although many Sweet Briar students decided to continue their education at the college, there were some students who opted to transfer for various reasons. Fortunately, the Randolph-Macon community has welcomed the Sweet Briar girls with open arms.

Former Sweet Briar student, Shivani Upadhya, made the brave decision to transfer to Randolph-Macon for her senior year. As she embarks upon this new chapter in her life, she will continue to major in political science with a concentration in international relations.

“The transformation process was a learning experience for me and my parents,” Upadhya said. “When I applied to R-MC, I knew that this was the school for me and from then on everything seemed to work out.”

Upadhya sees her transformation process with Randolph-Macon as a learning experience because she had never been faced with a challenge like this before. Nevertheless, the long and grueling process forced her to persevere.

“Even though SBC reopened it was quite unfortunate that the circumstances didn’t work out for me,” Upadhya said. “The professors in my major who I knew well were not returning and they weren’t offering any new classes in my major.”

Although Upadhya had to make a tough decision regarding her education, she ultimately knew that coming to R-MC was the best decision, even if she had to leave behind her best friend and the memories she made throughout the years.

Due to the unfortunate situation, Upadhya could not return to the place that she called home for three years. Fortunately, Philip Stone, the college’s new president, has a plan to breathe life back into the same school that was struggling to survive just a few months ago. Stone hopes to increase enrollment numbers to record levels in the years to come.

Currently, Sweet Briar College has had less than 300 students enroll for the 2015-2016 academic year. However, this number does not include the estimated 80 students who are enrolled in the college’s study abroad program. Although these estimations are unofficial at this time, later this month the official enrollment numbers will be released.

As the school’s student body has vastly decreased from over 500 students to less than 300, the size of the faculty has decreased as well. In the fall of this year, the school welcomed 16 new faculty members to help make up for the 100 members that left.

Although the small private college may feel different to returning students this fall, it is on its way to becoming a new and improved school. Since the school’s current president has a very driven spirit, great things are expected from this born-again college.

Despite the temporary crisis that Sweet Briar endured, the Randolph-Macon community is happy to welcome Upadhya and the other Sweet Briar transfers to the Yellow Jacket family.

-Dory Jackson ’16, Senior Features Editor

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