A Different Kind of Love Story
Or how I found a home away from home.
My first trip abroad—for Drew’s London Semester—happened on the dime of a woman who had never met me.
The love actually started decades before, with her mother, Grace (Onderdonk) Weggeland ’58, G’67. A transfer student from Bates College, she was eager to take part in Drew’s Washington Semester, but didn’t have the money to cover the expenses. Enter Julius Mastro, the legendary chair of the political science department, who put her in touch with people who could help.
“For my mom, the Washington Semester was a life-changing program,” Grace’s daughter, Monique Weggeland Flynn ’84, told me. “Her perspective broadened so much during this semester.”
In 2002, wanting to honor Grace and her experience at Drew, Flynn and her father, Robert Layne Weggeland ’61, founded the Grace Weggeland Prize for off-campus study. Flynn herself participated in the 1983 London Semester and even relocated to England, where for 20 years she’s lived with her husband and two children.
While I was in London in 2011, Flynn invited me out to lunch. “Within a few minutes, it was clear that the London Semester had expanded your horizons far wider than you knew possible,” Flynn wrote me recently. “It was so exciting to see what my mom must have felt when she was in Washington.”
After our lunch in Leicester Square, Flynn took me under her wing. Dinner, a visit to her house in Surrey, freshly baked brownies and—best of all!—a box of American pancake mix, to cure my longing for something other than the super-flat pancakes they serve in England.
Flynn shared one more piece of her family’s story. In the late 1950s, Grace helped organize a dance for GIs on campus. “Each of the committee members had to ask one of the GIs to the dance,” Flynn recalled. “My mom asked my dad, and that is how they met.”
This entire experience has shown me that Drew people care about making a difference. I’m grateful to be part of a love story spanning generations and continents, one that has such power to nurture dreams.—Kathryn McMillan ’13, English major and Drew Magazine intern
Learn more about International and Off-Campus Programs at Drew.