Day 130: Alma Mater - The Mother Goddess and the University

by Sarah Devika Sumnauth

So today I find myself back at my Alma Mater, York University.  Being here, in this atmosphere of students studying and conversing has me reminiscing about the student I used to be and how much this University (while having certain downfalls) really and truly nurtured me as a student and as an individual.  My current level of success is nothing if not a wonderful reflection of my time spent inside these walls.

The terminology alma mater, therefore, is one I find quite interesting.  In preparation for writing this post, I decided to look it up for the correct spelling and quickly learned that while the word refers to any school, college or university you attended and graduated from, its root dates back to ancient Rome.  Alma Mater was for the ancients, a title that was given to various Mother Goddesses like Cybele (The mountain Mother Goddess) and Ceres (Goddess of agriculture, grain and crops.)  

Appropriate, no?

Think about it.  

Alma Mater are the words used by the ancients to refer to Mother Goddesses (both of whom listed intrigue me in their metaphorical significance of mountains and cultivation of agriculture,  grains and crops - yesss Environmental Studies and the process of entrepreneurship and cultivation of the self!) and now in contemporary society to refer to the graduate of the university system; a system which has been set up to nurture you into a higher state of learning.  

Much of the reason why I have so much valuable knowledge in my brain, in my mind, is because of this system.  I loved my program (Environment & Culture: Philosophy, Arts, Technology and Education), always felt guided to choose classes I eventually fell in love with and had more profs than not who wanted to share their knowledge freely, logically and openly with me.

For me, it makes sense.

What’s more, after last nights online mineral makeup crafting class held by Monave(!!), I feel like those same student skills, the ability to record notes on the fly and multitask, make sure I keep all of the information in a format that I will refer back to (iPhone video), and retain, reminds me of this idea of alma mater and feeling nurtured and guided, despite various frustrating experiences leading up to the class itself.  Even though the times got switched, and I didn’t receive my class materials before hand, and I felt some irritation (reminds me of York! lol), I still had an awesome time, and ended the class feeling great, more knowledgeable, guided and even more interested (if possible) then when I began.  These same reasons are why I feel nothing now but gratitude towards my alma mater.  

Without all of the ups and downs, one can never truly learn what they need to know to ready themselves for success.  So thank you York and Monave, you’ve been nothing but a goddess-send!