|The 2016 Class of Marshall University|
Earlier this week my wife and I took her daughter (my bonus daughter) to Marshall University. It’s been an emotional week.
The “first day of college” has changed significantly since I went away to school 27 years ago. I recall my parents helping me load my stuff into my dorm room and then me “suggesting” it was time for them to head back to Charleston. I recall feeling very alone that first night, until I ran into a couple people I knew and going out for pizza. I still remember Todd Rodeheaver, my RA. The first thing he said to me when he walked into my dorm room was “Nice stereo,” as I was putting components together. “Just keep it down.” I have no idea what happened to “Rodie” after he graduated. He was in the ROTC. I believe he went into the regular Army as an officer.
At Marshall University (Beverly and I are both alumni) and where we were dropping off our daughter, the freshmen report a few days before the rest of the campus. The only upper classmen around were the RAs, the athletes and the band. The freshmen had two full days of programming scheduled to get them acclimated to the campus and ready for school. I like the process because I remember feeling a little lost as I walked around campus that first week. Do freshmen make better grades? Do they stay in school longer? Are they happier? I’m sure someone is measuring this stuff.
I wanted to stay out of the way as much as I could this trip, giving Bev and her daughter time to spend with each other. So, after we delivered her stuff to her dorm room, I made myself scarce. That meant I spent a lot of time hanging around the Memorial Student Center. I found myself looking for faces I knew. I had a brief fantasy that I was going to wake up from a dream, that it was 1985, and I was back in school. Obviously, that didn’t happen. It just so happens, my bonus daughter is now living in the same dorm as my first girlfriend in college. It struck me that I don’t recall much of that time.
Ironically, the one person I saw on campus that I recognized that day was Rick Haye, the Marshall University photographer. I worked for him for a couple semesters as a work study intern. Mostly, I processed black and white film and made some prints in the darkroom, but it was a tremendous learning experience. There’s no doubt in my mind that my time at Marshall studying Journalism and then working for Rick set me on the career path that has led to some pretty amazing adventures.
Someone once told me the friendships you make in college are the most intense, and the most short-lived, of your life. I’m still close to a few friends from college and I am thankful for that continued friendship. It’s odd to me that I don’t remember the names of many of the people I was inseparable with during those days. We laughed together, studied together, had way too much to drink together, ate together and “grew up” together. Some left after that first semester. Others made it a year or two. And some of us went that “whole nine yards” to graduation.
I hope and pray that my bonus daughter has the same positive experiences that Bev and I had at Marshall. The first day or two has been a little rocky, but I know it will get better soon. Just stick with it and be the strong, independent and creative young woman we all know you are.