Dec. 2, 2013
A short, 90-minute drive from West Chester and countless trips to College Hill had Abby Floyd-Jones convinced that she was not going to go to Lafayette College. With her mom and dad, Jamy and John, both having been athletes at Lafayette and in a sorority and fraternity respectively, Floyd-Jones wasn't even interested in visiting the school in Easton, nevertheless applying.
"I didn't want to go on a tour and hear my parents still reminiscing about things," said Floyd-Jones, whose dad graduated in 1985 and mom graduated in 1986.
Understandable. Floyd-Jones had heard more stories about her parents' days as college sweethearts than most kids do. And thanks to reunions every other summer at Lafayette, she'd also already had memorized every building on campus.
Then swimming coach Jim Dailey reached out to Floyd-Jones with just the right words to persuade her to be a little more open-minded about College Hill.
"His whole philosophy is that we are students first and he really convinced me that I could be more than just a swimmer, and that's what I was looking for," Floyd-Jones said. "Then I met the team and I knew I would fit in."
That may be even a bit of an understatement.
Even though Floyd-Jones, a senior economics major, visited Gettysburg, Bucknell, Franklin & Marshall and Dickinson, she was so at ease on College Hill and with her prospective teammates that she applied early admission to Lafayette and never applied to any other school.
Once her acceptance letter arrived in the mail, the news that she would be a Leopard for the next four years made her parents ecstatic.
"We knew Lafayette was the place for her," said Abby's mom. "I think her fear would be, 'That's my mom and dad's place, not my place. But the school has changed so drastically since we were there and has grown tremendously with additional students and staff. And now it feels like her place, and not ours."
Abby Floyd-Jones (bottom right) with the
Orentation Leader Steering Committee
When Abby Floyd-Jones arrived on campus to move in as a freshman, she was particularly impressed by the Orientation Leaders, and immediately decided that the next year she'd do everything she could to be one.
It wasn't easy though. The application and interview process is "pretty rigorous." Not just anyone gets to be an OL.
"It's a highly coveted job at Lafayette," she said.
As an OL, Floyd-Jones arrives on campus four days before the freshmen move in to go through intense training so OLs are prepared for anything and everything the new students throw at them. Then the OLs lead the freshmen through four days of orientation. Most of those days last from 7 a.m. until midnight. Yes, they get paid, but it's all of just $100 for the week.
This fall, there were 21 students in her group.
"It was insane juggling everyone's schedules," she said. "I never lose my voice except during that week of being an OL."
Floyd-Jones doesn't mind the overwhelming hours, the crazy questions she often gets or the minimal pay, though.
"It's definitely my favorite thing to be a part of at Lafayette," she said. "It's such a great group of people to be around. It's a ton of fun to get the first-year students acclimated. I love being an OL."
She also loves her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. It just so happens to be the same sorority her mom was in while at Lafayette.
Abby Floyd-Jones with teammate Molly Gondolf
The only aspect of her sorority that Floyd-Jones is ready to pass on? Being the president. Her term is up soon and Floyd-Jones, who lives at the sorority house, will be OK with letting go of the numerous tasks that come with the presidency.
"Being president is a huge responsibility, but the learning that you get from it, I don't think you can get it anywhere else," Jamy Floyd-Jones said.
Abby Floyd-Jones, though, is nowhere near ready to say goodbye to the swim team and everything that comes with it. Her teammates, particularly Molly Gondolf, are some of her closest friends. And she's eager to improve upon her performances in the 100 and 200 backstroke at the Patriot League meet. She just swam her personal best times in both (2:08 in the 200 and 1:00.2 in the 100) against Lehigh last Friday.
"I was excited about that because I wasn't shaved or tapered, so I know I will only drop time from that," Floyd-Jones said. "Last year I was 17th in the 200 backstroke and with Boston University and Loyola (joining the Patriot League), it will be hard. But I would love to be in the top 16."
Floyd-Jones, owner of a 3.7 GPA, will graduate in the spring. She's already interviewing for jobs, many of which would be based in New York City, Boston or Philadelphia, all places she could see herself landing. Her mom has no doubts she could handle whatever career path she takes, which looks now like it could be consulting or accounting.