Photo by Heidi Mulligan Walker

Twenty years ago I graduated with a BA in Creative Writing and a minor in Fine Art from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College (RMWC), now called Randolph College after going co-ed a few years ago. I lived, worked and studied there for four years in Lynchburg, VA USA – a place I still have a fondness for all these years later.

It wasn’t love at first sight or a match made in heaven. I actually tried to transfer out of RMWC during my first year as a Freshman. My roommate and I didn’t click and we never became friends and when she booted me out in order to room with someone else, I decided I needed to keep my options open. After further humiliations in a ballet class above my level and a very uncomfortable riding class, I started to visit other colleges up North thinking a Southern college full of rich ‘Southern Belles’ maybe wasn’t for me.

Then I got a job in the dining hall clearing tables. It was there I met and became friends with Erin Mulligan, a wise, down to earth, friendly and funny Sophomore. Suddenly it became clear to me that I needed to stay. And stay I did. Working in the dining hall with Erin opened me up to some important things including making new friends, a short career in catering and meeting my mentor and friend Marlene who was the dining hall manager at that time. Erin always made me laugh and think – really think about stuff. She was a genius conversationalist, brilliant student and good friend. Through Erin, I met her younger sister Michelle who was also a Freshman and then the next year, Heidi came to RMWC as well. These three Mulligan sisters had a significant impact on my life at RMWC and I will forever be grateful to them for that.

Now, twenty four years later, we are all married, have children and are living on two different continents with fulfilling lives, families and careers. We’ve all experienced life and travel abroad and we all give back in our own ways – be it supporting charities, helping to educate the young, mentoring start ups, or inspiring others.

Heidi and Michelle are in Lynchburg at our 20th reunion this weekend and it pains me to miss such a momentous occasion. However, I know they are both fantastic representatives from our graduating year and will have a fabulous time.

As many of you know, Heidi is my co-author on Inspiring Global Entrepreneurs and we donate 10% of all book profit to the study abroad program at Randoph College. During our Junior year, Heidi went to study in Reading England and I went to study Art in Cortona, Italy. For both of us, although we didn’t know it at the time, it was the start of our journeys as expats and business women.

I think it’s accurate to say that I would not be living in Britain and bringing up my three very British children now if I had transferred out of RMWC.

Here’s to you Mulligan sisters!

Vita Abundantior

This blog post is dedicated to Erin Mulligan Przybylinski, Michelle Mulligan Beard, and Heidi Mulligan Walker and also to my husband Nick Fenn who puts up with and adores (I hope!) my ‘American-ness’ and tries very hard to understand what things like RMWC and other things about my life before 1994 and pre-Britain mean to me.