Each autumn, as I see the leaves on our campus change into beautiful shades of red, orange, and yellow, Robert Frost’s celebrated poem The Road Not Taken often comes to mind. Perhaps the imagery of the yellow wood or the fallen leaves is what ties the work to autumn for me, but more notably, the poem invokes the theme of change and new beginnings and opportunities—a motif that is very much apparent on campus this time of year. 

On my nightly campus walks with my dog, Daisy, it is easy to see the campus foliage physically shift colors. But the most measurable change occurs within our students as they immerse themselves in campus life, explore new coursework, start new internships and professional experiences, cultivate new personal and professional relationships, and boldly navigate their own path—whether it follows their plans or leads them down a road not taken.

I am occasionally invited by a Butler faculty member to join a class session and share my own personal and professional journey. I cite times when I confronted critical decisions and chose a path, arguably, less taken, whether it was selling my business at age 37 to pursue an MBA degree, or later moving my family to pursue new career opportunities. Exploring the road less taken may not have always been the easiest way, and as I tell students, you’ll never know what the outcome would have been if you went in another direction, so leave that behind and move confidently ahead in pursuit of the life and career intended for you.

Our students often tell me about all the amazing things they are doing. More often than not, these stories include phrases like I never realized that this was something I could do or I never pictured myself doing this or I had no idea this was what I wanted to do until I took this course or started this internship. And in many of these anecdotes, diverging from an intended path and opting for a new experience has led to a newly discovered passion, a previously unknown skill, or a changed perspective.

While the students may not realize it, these types of stories speak volumes about the positive impact of the Butler experience as they are encouraged to think critically, explore opportunities outside of their comfort zone, and challenge themselves to imagine the possibilities of what a new internship or area of study could do for them. When I hear these stories, I cannot help but be grateful for the faculty and staff on campus who foster these opportunities and experiences. These conversations provide just a sample of the stories that speak to the power of exploration and how our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are charting their own courses and choosing a path less traveled.

Without the generosity and support of our alumni, community partners, and donors, many of these stories would end differently. The scope of community experiences, the relationships, and networks that open new doors, the endowed scholarships and gifts, and the brand-new facilities on campus make these life-changing opportunities possible. For so many of our students and alumni, these experiences have made all the difference.

In this edition of Butler Magazine, we explore a variety of stories about the unique paths our students have taken. These conversations always ignite so much gratitude and appreciation for the faculty and staff on our campus who help our students find their way. As you browse the pages, I hope you are reminded of the period of growth and discovery that decided your life’s path.