This may seem silly to some of y’all, but this is going to be a very emotional post for me. You see, I always dreamed of getting to go to college. Mama and Daddy both graduated high school back in a time where graduating high school was enough for just about anything you wanted to do. They worked to get through high school. Daddy had actually dropped out and when he asked Mama to marry him she said “My daddy won’t let me marry anyone without a high school diploma” so after one year away from school he returned to school, they got married, and they both got their diplomas shortly afterward.
Their dream back in the early seventies was for all of us to graduate high school. It was a good dream and one that we all accomplished. But I secretly wanted something more. I wanted to go to college.
I had always dreamed of getting to go to college. Notice how I say “getting to” as if it is some grand prize being awarded. Most kids nowadays will say “when I go to college” but I could never look at it as such a concrete, definite concept. I talked in terms of “If I ever got to go to college…”
I hated to ask Mama and Daddy. To us all, college was something far off and unattainable. It was foreign and something only rich people got to do. I took some classes at a community college though, and I was grateful for that. I’ll never forget the semester me and Mama sat down in the middle of the living room floor one night and rolled enough coins to pay my tuition as we chatted about my classes and friends. We never took it for granted, not one second.
I took a few classes here and there while working full time as a teller in a credit union but then one weekend I went to visit a friend of mine at The University of North Alabama. Oh how I fell in love. She had to study in the library one night and I tagged along, relishing the opportunity to walk around campus by myself and just drink it in. My heart ached and that dream of getting to go myself came stubbornly bubbling up.
I wanted to go to UNA so badly. I had a heart to heart talk that night with my friend and for the first time in my life I found out about the different financial options to allow you to go to college. That was the fall of 1996. In January of 1997 I moved into Rice Hall, the woman’s dormitory, and began my studies. Each day, each class, each book I held represented the culmination of a dream come true for me.
It took me a while to graduate. During that time I met my husband and we married. We wanted a family right away and by the time I walked across the stage two year old Brady was watching and cheering me on.
So today, considering all of this, I’m going to share something with you that leaves me completely without words. My university asked me to do a commercial to help promote my alma mater which is airing all over Alabama. Knowing what you know about me now, I’m sure you can imagine the sweet and aching gratitude in my heart for all that you have given me.
P.S. I think I am almost to the point where I can watch this without crying 🙂
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Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have so much to be grateful for.