There wasn’t ever a second thought about where I would go to college. My parents had successfully convinced me from birth that their alma mater, a small Baptist university out in West Texas, would be where I attended and like all good daughters my father is rolling his eyes I cheerfully applied, was accepted, granted a full scholarship and made plans to show up bright and shiny with my backpack and Members Only jacket in August, 1987.
In June of 1987 I went to work at a convention center for the summer and I met a boy.
Who did NOT go to that West Texas school.
And I fell head over heels in love.
At summer’s end and despite the distance between our respective schools, we managed to keep our relationship going because I finally had a boyfriend and I wasn’t letting that go and he would drive the 860 mile round trip every three weeks to see me. This lasted until Thanksgiving when I’m sure that his parents said something about the charges on his gas card and he invited me to come see him, on his campus, at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.
The minute I saw the welcome sign I knew I was home.
I spent several days there, bunking in the dorm with some precious girls who opened their room up to a stranger, wandering the campus marveling at the lack of tumbleweeds, survived a meal or two at Walt’s Cafeteria, and immediately made plans to transfer.
There was one little hitch.
I had to call my father.
Now, to say that my daddy was less than thrilled about boys in general would be an understatement.
To hear that his daughter was leaving her FULL SCHOLARSHIP at his alma mater to chase a boy to Arkansas?
Let’s just say that conversation didn’t go so well.
To his credit, he did not disinherit me, but he did inform me that if I felt the need to make such an irresponsible decision and throw a free four-year degree out the window, I’d have to figure out a way to pay for school myself.
So I did.
I called the Admissions Office, told them I wanted to come, and in the boldest move I’ve ever made, I asked them to match my scholarship.
And without batting an eyelash, they did.
And so I moved to Arkansas in January, 1988, to a place where I knew one person, and proceeded to laugh, love, ditch the boyfriend, and live in a community that has nurtured me to this day.
I learned about dancing and Descartes.
I learned how to borrow and return the john boat from the Science lab without anyone knowing about it and how to lead by example.
I learned how to schedule my classes around prime tanning time at Lake DeGray and how to serve.
But most of all I grew and matured surrounded by friends and professors who challenged me to make a difference in my sphere of influence.
Truly, one of the best decisions I ever made.
Have a nice day.