CUFriday

I remember stepping foot on Cedarville College's campus 25 years ago...

I remember this incredible excitement bubbling inside...Of course I was crazy nervous and scared...I had NO IDEA what "college life" was going to be like...I did not know what the academic expectations would be or who I would meet...but oh I had dreams...

And I remember just taking a deep breath and exhaling...

Ahhhhh

This was where I belonged...

I KNOW that everyone is different, everyone has a different expectation, a different idea, a different STORY...

but for MY story...

My college experience was a new beginning

I was beginning to finally SEE how all the things in my past were fitting together and setting me on my future journey...

To this day, I am beyond grateful that I had the opportunity to attend CU and participate in crazy amounts of activities, clubs, teams and just plain FUN during my years there.

I think one of the things that we are trying to impart to our girls as it pertains to college is that, you need to determine where you truly believe you belong and where you ought to go...We don't want them choosing a college based on what everyone else is doing, or even what mom & dad would like...this is the beginning of THEIR future and they need to be informed and make these decisions based on what they know thus far about themselves...I struggled with this...I took the expectations of my parents, of my classmates, of myself and applied to schools that weren't really my fit.  I was scared of financial difficulties, prestige, and making a "wrong" choice. These are things that have to be discussed & thought about...but, it's not a popularity contest, nor do I believe it is about a name on a degree (I know many will disagree with me on this...but again, this is MY experience and MY story...and the impact college had in my life had little to do with the degree I received, and more about the experience in which I lived..and it changed me, and set me on a course that I didn't know existed before)

Secondly, (and I wholeheartedly believe this) your college experience is what you make it...Both A and I hit the campus running...we actively pursued opportunities...whether it was clubs, ministry teams, job opportunities...whether it was friend groups, intramural sports, or outside campus endeavors...we had to have the gumption to try All.The.Things! 

I came to Cedarville rather shy and timid...but, I determined that this was a new beginning, a clean slate...a place where I felt safe & belonged...and so, I took risks, I branched outside of myself...and bit by bit, my confidence grew...

it doesn't mean I didn't have set backs...

for heavens sake, my "dream" was to make a traveling vocal team and marry the lead singer...

ummmm....well....let's just say God had better plans!

During the first week or so, I tried out for every traveling team...and yet, when they placed me on the Puppet Team, instead of the singing team, it wasn't disappointment that struck my heart, but rather, this crazy knowing that this "road" I was on, this "plan" was actually bigger than I understood and I was just going to keep putting one foot in front of the other...

I also think that when you live life, in an attitude of gratitude...the "changes" in your plans, don't feel so "negative" or disappointing...because you are just grateful for where you are and where you are headed...(this is only pertaining to the slight changes of plans with regards to college and the topic at hand....I would never equate "change of plans" to monumental or devastating events that sometimes befall us)

It feels like, in our community, that once you hit highschool people start asking you "what are you going to be? what will you major in, in college?" and for a 14 or 15 year old, this is intimidating and incredibly pressure filled...heck, it causes anxiety in SENIORS for heaven's sake...not to mention parents who are just trying to navigate the high school waters and helping to save for the future of college...we don't have it all together just yet!!!

Therefore, it was our goal to expose our eldest, as she is finishing up her first year of HS, to other career pursuits outside the ones that are "typical" (teaching, law, medicine & professional athlete)

Our Alma mater has a program called CU Friday where they welcome underclassmen to explore the college, to hear from current students, current staff and alumni...to walk the campus like a regular campus tour, but OUR FAVORITE part, was the student fair where ALL the departments in which you could major were set up at tables for you to come explore.  We walked the floor and asked them specifically, "Okay, if I pursued this major, what happens at the end of 4 years?" "What specific job would I apply for?" 

This was perfect for our girl and I so wish they would have had it open for a longer period of time because it was fascinating to be introduced to all these incredible areas of study and potential career paths...

We'll probably go on a "real college visit" to the ville when she's older, but this was a perfect "try out the waters" day for us...She has already taken the "plan" online test to determine her areas of interest and potential career paths that "might" suit her.  We weren't surprised by some of the ones that showed up in her results, but it was also great to talk through what those specific career paths would entail...with regards to schooling and even potential job opportunities in the future...

I say all this so that you understand the premise for which we traveled to Cedarville last Friday...

And then there was the "other" side of this trip :)

The parts of the trip that had nothing to do with actual "college visit" are what made the icing on the cake for me!

Perry and I met at the ville and I can honestly tell you I have no recollection of the meeting...or how it all got started...I think when you get to college though, and you are pursuing like-minded people, they are easier to find and being in that close-knit environment, relationships form quickly. 

We often referred to each other via our last names...we could be found making a ruckus, painting our faces, watching movies, being loud, having deep talks, and living our college experience to the fullest.  She was (and still is) a huge part of my story...the way she lived life out loud and loved Jesus and got out of the box was my inspiration...and in wanting to be "like" her, she just helped me be more of the ME I was destined to be...


She was a year ahead of me and had her own established group of friends...and yet, she & I became so, so close..We even traveled to Australia together on a mission trip where that bond grew even deeper. We lamented over "boys" and family dynamics, future careers and even debated theology.

And so, when we were recently texting and decided to introduce our daughters to our alma mater on the same day...all I can say was when I walked into the Dixon Ministry Center and saw her (which I hadn't for about 15 years)...our hug caused the flood gates to open...so much was wrapped up in that reconnection...Together we had weathered heartache, disappointment, death, exhaustion, excitement, surprise...extreme emotions and difficult circumstances as friends, journeying together before we were even 21 years old! It is true that in life, if you allow people in, if you are open & honest with yourself & others...it may be painful, it may cause some to walk away...but for those that don't...these are the friendships that last a lifetime...

We both were trying to pull it together before our daughters thought us completely off the deep end...and before long the stories were flying...we walked next to each other, watching our daughters walk ahead of us during the campus tour...It was surreal...remembering being in those same spots, some 25 years earlier...and seeing how far we had come...knowing that our girls would one day have their own experiences to create...

We were able to see my RD from my first year, who also happened to become my trusted counselor during my Senior year, after my sister had died. Kim, who has a heart for people and chooses to speak truth into them, is a breath of fresh air everytime I see her...I felt like my heart just kept growing as it continued to be filled at each campus tour stop...

We met up with Chief, the former director of our Campus Activity Board, for coffee once the schedule was complete for the day...this man who was probably one of the most influential persons in my husband's life outside of his father.  We learned selflessness, generosity and accountability at the hands of this gregarious & kind man.  These qualities were impressed upon Anthony and he continues them and have become a part of who he is today...

To say that our time in college was life-changing, is probably an understatement...

I'm so very grateful and my hope/prayer for all of my girls is that they'll have similar experiences...with not only academics, but friendships, adventures and mentoring that will last a lifetime, no matter where they choose to attend university!





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