This is a work of opinion. The views expressed do not represent those of Haskell Indian Nations University or the Indian Leader. The subjective, naïve, and bias viewpoint is from that of the author only. For entertainment purposes.
In late October, I was invited to participate in the “Discover Bentley” program in Waltham, Massachusetts. The program is a three day visit to Bentley University for purposes of learning, questioning, and experiencing the campus and atmosphere of the historic institution. The program is exclusive to minorities. I was very excited to receive the opportunity to possibly further my education at such a prestigious institution. Their work placement upon graduating rate is very high, as are the beginning salaries for Bentley graduates in corporations. I was impressed. I was soon to be depressed.
Earlier in September, the “Discover Bentley” team had come to my school and was presenting in my class! I was ready and excited to meet them and get their insight. They were extraordinary. I agreed to do an interview with them afterwards where I presented myself and spoke of my life and personal perspective. All was well. I received a call a week later from their staff asking me to revise my resume and write more about myself in the essay that is part of the admission process. I did cheerfully. Naturally, a couple of weeks later I was sent a letter of acceptance by Bentley, airline tickets, and hotel reservations. I felt on my way to sure success. I took exams early. I asked for days off of work (I clean up after the butchers at the local supermarket, part-time). It was time to explore my future and I hoped Bentley would be what they said they could be.
I have crippling anxiety at the airport. Flying in airplanes is a huge ordeal for me. I arranged for some special “prescription” help and was on my way. Luckily, I was traveling with one other person from Haskell Indian Nations University, a friend of mine nonetheless! We left Lawrence, Kansas at four in the morning. I went to bed early, my companion did not sleep at all. We were in the air by six and watched the sunrise from above the clouds. Everything was great. We landed in Boston. This is when things began to feel strange to me. The itinerary had said a limo service would be at the airport to take us to our hotel, The Marriott. After finding the driver, we waited another hour and a half for two more participants to land and join us. We were tired and hungry and worse, the vehicle awaiting was a plain town car, not a limo. This specific limo service they used actually owned no limousines in their fleet. I know what you are thinking, “stop being an a**hole J.C.” and you’re right. I admit fault by having expectations that a limousine service would be driving me to an Ivy League institution in an actual limousine. My bad. Nonetheless, this set the tone for my discovery into Bentley.
Upon arriving at our hotel, we were greeted by the Discover Bentley team, an eclectic group of female students who either were attending or had attended Bentley, much like student ambassadors at Haskell. We walked through the doors wearily with our luggage and lag. Our rooms were not yet ready. We were tired and hungry. The Bentley team had arranged an assortment of fun-size bags of potato chips and cookies. My companion asked if we could get something more substantial, as by this point we had traveled very far with little access to food. He was told we could walk around and look for a sandwich shop. One of the team had pity on us and said she would look into getting us some sandwiches. No sandwiches ever arrived. We did get access to our room first, as we were the first to arrive. Other colleagues were still traveling in, so my companion and I had about an hour to recoup from the journey. We were the lucky ones. Some students did not get to check into their rooms. They received no opportunity to rest, refresh, or eat a proper meal. Immediately after the last arrival, we were taken to the campus.
Running on a handful of Cheetos, we looked at the materials given to us by the team. It included a detailed itinerary, the first time any of us had seen what they had scheduled with our time. The rest of the day was scheduled until 10:30 pm with classes. They had to be joking? Had they no consideration for our disorientation, acclamation, and jet-lag? At least the fed us, finally. A fine meal of fajitas. We sat together in a room, all twentytwo participants. The administrators of the program were present. We introduced ourselves to each other and made small talk over chips and salsa. A former Haskell student was present. She sat with us and we asked her about her experience at Bentley. She gave the scoop that it was tough, but worth it. She is a real person and I was happy to see her. Dinner was too short. Before long, we were put into groups and escorted to actual Bentley classes in session. These classes were two and a half hours each. We were scheduled to attend two of them.
It was daunting. My companion was falling asleep in classes. I could not focus. While switching classes, I could not find our guide and got lost. I wandered through the buildings and encountered other participants of the program equally as confused. Where were the team? Why was I wandering through this strange place? At this point I had been awake for nineteen hours and was exhausted, irritated, and alone. I waited for the time that our shuttle would arrive to take us back to our hotel so I could take a shower. The Bentley team said they had pizza waiting for us at the hotel. Everyone was excited to eat and recharge. The Bentley team had ordered three large pizzas for twenty-two adults. I did not eat that night. The level of incompetence was staggering. Such simple tasks were not being completed. Most of all, I felt my wellbeing was not being taken into account. I began to question Bentley University and the situation I found myself in. If these people were the product of Bentley and they were making such errors in management, prioritization, and accommodations then what did that say about the institution? This program was my first impression and they were losing me. The next day was worse.
I made a career ending mistake. I slept in by accident. My digital clock had not adjusted to the time zones automatically. I had overlooked that detail. Both my companion and I were an hour late! The team graciously sent us a car to meet up with the rest of the group, who by this time had finished their breakfast and were getting ready for informational meetings. The informational meetings pertained of all of the same information, handouts, and scripts that I had already heard when their emissaries came to my class at Haskell. When my companion and I arrived, we were confronted by one of the Bentley team who berated us for being late. We were told that our dedication had been diminished and that we should apologize to the entire group. This is where I drew the line. Accidents happen and in an actual professional setting, yes, this would be frowned upon, but no moral lesson or public apology is necessary. I had rearranged my life to attend this event. Did she not take that into account? I did not apologize to anyone. I was their guest and they had forgotten that. My excitement fled at that moment. My dream of what I thought Bentley University was and its opportunity was over. The other Bentley team did not greet or acknowledge us the whole morning. We were outcasts. I felt very uncomfortable being there. The only saving grace for the group was their supervisor, a kind woman who noticed my unease and offered a car back to the hotel. She was my angel that day. She was the only person that I felt saw me as a person and not only a prospect. That night the group was slated to be set loose on Harvard Square in Cambridge. I did not attend. I spent the night in my hotel room. Asleep and content.
The next day I did not exist. I was not accounted for. One of the Bentley team even announced my absence to the group to which I corrected her. I was clearly there, sort of. We had two errands left on our agenda and then we would be off to the airport that afterlunch. The first was a tour of the campus. I found it totally backwards that we were finally receiving a proper tour of the campus in our final hours. I had already spent precious time wandering around the buildings in a fatigue-induced delusion. This information would have been useful earlier on. We did not get to see the whole campus, just the buildings that concerned us and our degrees. My favorite part of the tour was when we went to the library and it was locked. The level of incompetence no longer surprised me. I was agitated and done with this trip. It was not what I expected at all. The last event on our agenda was an open house. Representatives from a dozen organizations had tables under a white tent top.
I walked past every table. Nobody spoke to me and I spoke to no one. I did ask for some free “swag” at the registration table. A woman looked at me unkindly and told me that the “swag” was not for the Discover Bentley group. I expected nothing less. A last meal was to be served with all attendees. Many people in my group were confused and lost as to where the brunch would be served. The Bentley team had reverted to shouting orders at us. They led us down wrong hallways and were constantly miscommunicating with each other. I had no guidance or instruction as to where to sit. My anxiety kicked in and I opted to sit in the hallway, to which a passing Bentley team member snarled that I should be inside the dining hall. I felt like a child.
Finally, the time came to leave. I could not get on the shuttles fast enough. The girl who had berated me for being late kept trying to say goodbye, as if we were friends, as if we had made some connection that required a heart-felt adieu. I bid her farewell with the nod of my head. I had not had a good time. I had not seen anything impressive. I felt I had wasted my time. I am a busy man and to clear my schedule takes much effort. I wish them well, but I know my destiny is not at Bentley. I learned a lot about what I do not want. I do not want to be a faceless cog in a capitalist machine. I do not want to have to wear a plastic smile as part of my work uniform. I do not want to make other people rich. I do not particularly want to live on the East Coast. The only thing I discovered from the “Discover Bentley” program was that I would rather go to law school.
I am grateful that they took the time and spent the money to get me out there, I truly am. They kept telling us that they were looking for the best of the best, which I am. Someone should have told them that to get the best of the best, you must be the best of the best. I hope this does not dissuade anyone from looking into Bentley University for their own academic route. I hope I have not offended any alumni or current students. This is a simple retelling of my experience.