Triton magazine asked alumni about the defining moments that changed everything for UC San Diego students, and what it means to them today. Annamarie Bezzerides ’91 shared the following campus memory with Triton magazine:
It was the late ‘80s/early ’90s, and there was a cadre of folks on campus who probably wished they had been here during the ’60s. Drummers on the Hump, that sort of thing, want-to-be hippies. For better or worse, I was one of them.
That Gulf War was the first war that had been conducted 24/7, given the advent of cable news networks. There were a lot of protests as this war was emerging, and as part of this, a group of students spontaneously began to live round the clock on the steps of the Humanities library. I can’t believe UCSD let us do that! But we did.
Somehow I got my hands on a mattress, and I’d lodged it underneath the stairs. Every morning I would see a beloved professor, Georgios Anagnostopoulos, walk up the stairs to his office in the philosophy department. We’d leave the camp intact, go to class all day, then we would come back and camp.
One night everyone was sitting in a circle, with candles all around, of course, and the group couldn’t come to a consensus on something—what we stood for, maybe. I recall vividly that moment when I thought, There are two ways to effect change in the world: you can sit out here arguing, nipping at the pant legs of society, or you can go work with organizations or government institutions and effect change that way. And at that moment, I said to myself, “I’m going to finish school and go into a career in public service.” I packed up my bags and drove home at 3 a.m., went to sleep in my bed that night and for the duration of the Gulf War; I finished my degree and went onto pursue a nonprofit career in fundraising for higher education.
Looking back on it, moments like that are what college is about. It’s an intersection of education and personal formation, having the freedom to do something— you may not even be sure of why, but you discover who you are in the process. It’s the time to stay up till 3 a.m. exchanging ideas, and then one hits you and changes your life forever. I’m still in higher education after 25 years, and I’m continually surprised by how a college experience is so formative, how it spins you in different directions—especially the ones you never knew were right for you.
—Annamarie Bezzerides ’91 is senior associate vice president for university development at Georgetown University.