The running joke in my family is that we seem to have some sort of obsession with bags. It wasn't until about a year ago that I began to understand just why. To get to that point, one must travel back more than twenty years.
The year was 1994. My aunt was just finishing up her time in medical school at the University of Oklahoma. After completing eight years of education in her mission to become a physician, she decided to treat herself. The first large purchase she made out of medical school was one Ghurka Satchel No. 17. This particular bag was in for a long journey, and a full circle moment of sorts.
My aunt went on to complete her residency and to make her home at the institution where she completed medical school. In this time she would not only practice medicine, but would continue on to be a well-respected and award winning professor at the institution, and to work within administration as well. Throughout this journey and innumerable moves from house to house, that Satchel No. 17 was along for the ride. It had seen paperwork during residency, medical records, final exams, lecture notes, and so much more. Eventually, this bag led to another from Ghurka and was placed carefully in the closet. Soon enough, it would make its way back to the world of higher education.
In 2016 I was in my second year of college, having found a home for myself at my own university. I felt like a fish finding its way back to water with the many opportunities and amazing people I was able to meet. I soon realized that I too wanted to make a career for myself in the world of higher education. That summer, the first opportunity to put this dream into practice came to be. A supervisor reached out to me with an offer to help interview a candidate for an Assistant Dean position that needed filling. I knew exactly who to turn to for advice on how to handle this opportunity.
I visited my aunt to ask for her guidance, no doubt in my mind that she had been in a similar position at some point. She gave me valuable guidance as to the types of things I should look for as well as the type of outfit that would be most acceptable. Then she asked me whether I had a "good" notebook to keep my thoughts straight in. Upon finding out that I didn't, she told me there were two things that I would need to handle this meeting professionally. First, she gave me a notebook. The second item was the same Ghurka Satchel No. 17 that she had purchased for herself in 1994, only a year after I was born.
Immediately I loved the bag. In gorgeous antique chestnut, it was just the thing to bring my appearance together and to let others know that I took my work seriously. That day, that bag began a new journey with me. Now, it has been with me as I acted as a Teaching Assistant for the first time. It has been with me to important interviews in which it was the one thing that felt guaranteed to me. Finally, its most recent use has been to every university Board of Trustees meeting as the next step in my journey begins as a Student Board of Trustees Member. On my first day as a Trustee, I received more than one compliment on my "lovely bag". These compliments acted as much needed confidence boosts in an environment that I had never before navigated.
Undoubtedly this will not be the end of my journey with this Satchel No. 17. However, there is something powerful about knowing that there is another joining factor in the paths of my aunt and I. That factor is the gorgeous (albeit tastefully patinated) Ghurka Satchel No. 17.