Class of 1972 to Class of 2022: My Princeton Grandparent

June 29, 2021
Naomi Hess

Every graduating class at Princeton has its own grandparent class, the class that graduated 50 years prior. I’m in the Class of 2022, so my grandparent class is the Class of 1972. My class government initiated a new partnership with our grandparent class that matched me with my very own mentor from the Class of ‘72. I am so grateful for my friendship with my Princeton grandparent, George.

I was first paired with George in the spring semester of my first year. We were matched because of geographical proximity, since I’m from Maryland and he lives in Washington, D.C., and because of shared academic and career interests. At the time, I was planning on majoring in English, which was what George studied before becoming a journalist. Journalism is a career path that interests me, so George was a perfect match for me.

Ever since then, George and I have been regular email pen pals. We have lengthy email chains in which we give each other updates about what’s going on in our lives. George has told me many amusing stories from his time at Princeton, such as his adventures as an upper-level student living off-campus on a run-down farm and playing for a band. He has also given me valuable advice about writing academic papers, insights into the job search process, tips about journalism and so much more. These emails have been a constant source of joy and learning for two years now. It’s amazing to get to hear about the similarities and differences between the Princeton of the 1970s and the Princeton of the 2020s.

I lucked out even more with my grandparent matching because I have also gotten to know George’s wife, Monica. She is not a Princeton alumna herself and has no obligation to mentor me, but she chose to get to know me along with George. She has had a long career in politics and policy, which is another of my career interests, so she has also been a great resource. I’ve met up with George and Monica twice, once in summer 2019 in DC, and once on campus in fall 2019. It was so much fun to give them my own campus tour and show George how much has changed since he was a student. I also FaceTime George and Monica regularly.

I did not expect that I would end up with a good friend from Princeton 50 years my senior, but George has been an amazing source of support and kindness and I feel truly fortunate to have him in my life. This friendship exemplifies the strength of the Princeton community and the power of the Princeton alumni network.