Dear Georgetown College,
The high school cafeteria smelled like fear when we met.
Stale pizza and fries from lunch were long forgotten and tables were now stacked high with colorful brochures and backed by the smiling faces of college admissions personnel.
I walked in with my mother by my side, but I was expected to make my own decision, she was the helper. When did that transition happen exactly?
As I stopped at each table, it was less the brochures that drew my attention and more the demeanor of the person.
Were they kind? Were they decent?
At seventeen, it felt like a momentous decision. Was I equipped to decide where to spend four (maybe five?) years of my life? Was I even equipped to see through the glossy brochures and plastered smiles to decide where to visit?
My visits were vastly inconsistent. Some downtown Philadelphia, a university in Indiana, some Ohio and Kentucky thrown in for good measure. Lots of looking elsewhere.
But somewhere deep inside me was a small town girl living in a lonely world. I took the midnight train going…
To Georgetown College in the small town of Georgetown, Kentucky.
Little did I know that the decision was much more important than I thought. My choice of you as a college forged a path for my entire life, my friends, my profession, my home, my marriage, and my future children.
I arrived in a pick-up truck with furniture strapped down, my father, step-mother, and my mother, all helping me move into a dorm with no air conditioning, a roommate I didn’t know, on an adventure I couldn’t have foreseen.
It was hot.
But it was cool. I was finally on my own.
I could have started this letter any number of ways.
Dear Dr. Chi, Prof. Greynolds, Coach Donley, Dr. Crouch, Phi Mu, Big Sis, Little Sis, Roommate, Husband, Scholarship Committee, Dr. Bisese, City of Georgetown, Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Tent Girl, and more.
Within the first week of school, I would meet someone who would become a lifelong friend, roommate, sorority sister, sister in Christ, bridesmaid, and Sunday School teacher to my children. We still live 20 minutes from one another – 25 years later.
Not to be outshined, I would also meet someone who would become my date and then ultimately my husband and father of our three precious boys. We still love one another – 25 years later. We are coming upon our 20 year anniversary.
My favorite professors – Keon Chi and Margaret Greynolds – I can still picture them in my mind. I can even hear Dr. Chi say, “Be thorough. Be very, very thorough,” in his distinct and articulate voice, always with a little smile at the end. I was devastated that he passed away in a car accident within a year after he finally retired.
When my children return to campus, they ask, “What did you love about it Mom? This bronze tiger is pretty cool.” Or they watch a football game and ask, “Can we play football here someday?”
But what I hear is, “Can we someday have the same sparkle in our eyes when we walk around this campus? Can we share the same memories?”
Georgetown College was never an institution to me, as beautiful as the campus was (and continues to be). It was never bricks and mortar, a quad surrounded by sorority and fraternity houses, a football field aptly called “The Rock”, walkways that would ice over in the great ice storms of 1994 and beyond.
What was it exactly?
It was the little things – late nights of Papa John’s pizza and cokes, trips to Walmart in our pajamas, rides home from Richmond, movie days, flashlights and tales of Tent Girl’s origins that solidified friendships that would never be broken by the tides of distance and adulting.
It was the big things – car accidents, death, sorrow, and still somehow waking in the morning to sunshine and a cafeteria breakfast that wove our young hearts into a fabric that speaks decades in reverse and decades into the future.
Those people in my fabric are still woven with me, as I’m sure are the threads in the fabric of the students there today.
A few buildings on a small campus in a little town in Kentucky pours fire into foolish teenagers like me and forges it into people of love, compassion, intellect, independent thought, and faith in Jesus Christ.
We ARE Georgetown College.
My college experience wasn’t perfect. But it was mine. And that imperfection reflects the struggles I bore to become a me that is more content, more reflective, and more hopeful today than I ever was at 18.
At 18, I had no idea who I wanted to be at 43.
But Georgetown College helped me get here. It provided the people I needed along the way. And it shaped who I would be once I made it.
For love and loyalty,
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Last modified: April 12, 2017