For those of you who don't know me well, I graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, a small liberal arts university. Today is Founder's Day at Ouachita and I wanted to participate in their BlogAbout.
Warning: this post is pretty sappy and if you don't have any Ouachita ties you may just want to skip it. :-)
Wow! It's hard to believe that Ouachita Baptist University is 124 years old this year! I was there when Ouachita turned 100! TWENTY FOUR YEARS AGO! I guess that makes me pretty old.
There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about OBU in some way. My life changed dramatically during my years there. My freshman year alone was life changing for me..... I was one of those odd ducks.....a missionary kid. I had missed out on all things American during my high school years - no prom, homecoming football games, dates, etc. etc. So Ouachita was like an alien planet to me. But God was gracious and put me on the smallest floor of Flippen-Perrin Dorm. My roommate, Amy Cray, and I had the sweetest, kindest suite-mates - Angie Erwin and Mandy Bibbs. My next door neighbors were Kecia Stuart and Dina Teague. My across the hall friends were Jennifer Easter, Megan McMillan, Sandra Schull and Stephanie Kemp. Across the hall from them were Kelley Crow and Susan Bridges. That was it! Just 12 girls. They became my family. They loved me during that crazy, difficult year. Many nights we gathered in Dina and Kecia's room to watch Remington Steele or Dynasty. We pooled our money to buy pizza; we stood in the dark together peering through the mini-blinds at the Kappas when they came to serenade us. We squealed and huddled together during run-throughs. We cried when dumb boys broke our hearts. We had a Christmas party, we left stupid notes for each other, we went on trips together and to each other's homes (well except for mine.....my parents were not on the continent at the time!) They helped me love Ouachita.
I worked at the News Bureau that year under Mac Sisson, an old family friend, who saved me from a work-study job in the cafeteria. I stuffed envelopes (before the internet age when news releases were sent by snail mail!) and filed and heard all the campus gossip. My co-workers helped understand the world outside the dorm and the classroom........football games, pageants, talent shows, campus movies, track meets, and lectures. The News Bureau and Mac Sisson helped me love OBU.
I really enjoyed my classes my freshman year. After three years of doing high school by correspondence course, going to real classes with real teachers was shockingly different and refreshing. I loved the class interaction and discussion. I loved how knowledgeable my instructors were - how they could lecture on topics for the whole class time without even consulting their notes! I loved Mr. Sandifer's sense of humor when we looked at botany slides, Mr. Brown's explanation of the shark anatomy in Zoology class, and Dr. Nesbitt's crazy ties and odd quips in Chemistry class. Dr. Morris intimidated me in English when he graded our writing but spurred me on to not just write "purple prose". All these teachers helped me love Ouachita.
I was too socially awkward to navigate my way in the social club world my freshman year. It looked fun and by the time I understood how things worked and how meaningful the sisterhood of the clubs could be I was older and involved in other things. The BSU became my world and it was there that God grew me and brought some incredible people into my life. I was challenged by the missionary speakers that first year during Global Focus week. BSU retreats and leadership training brought me direction and discipleship. The BSU helped me love OBU.
My freshman year I met a young man - a tall, gangly kid from Texas named Charlie. He was in my freshman English class with Dean Flaig. I thought Charlie was kinda cute and even twirped him during Twirp Week but he turned me down because of a previous engagement (or so he said). I didn't give him another thought that year. Little did I know that the next year he would gather up enough courage to ask me out. The rest is history. We got married in Berry Chapel the summer before our 5th year at OBU. (We liked it so much we had to stay another year!) Meeting and falling in love with Charlie definitely contributed to me loving OBU.
Many things changed for me during my years at OBU. My job changed from the News Bureau to being an RA in the dorms. Kecia Stuart became my roommate my sophomore year and we roomed together for the next three years. My major changed from pre-med (what was I thinking???) to Early Childhood Education. I moved from Flippen-Perrin to Francis Crawford West to OC Bailey.
But more than the external changes were the internal changes that took place. My faith in Jesus became my own faith, not the faith I inherited from my parents, and I began to learn what it really meant to walk with God daily in a loving, dynamic relationship. I grew in confidence as I changed majors and realized my love for children and for teaching. I learned to laugh more and enjoy life as I was surrounded by so many crazy, fun people.
I will be eternally grateful for Ouachita. My heart will forever be full of the memories of that place - Walt's cafeteria, Dr. Grant's speeches, hanging out on the Bridge, checking my mail at the post office, Noonday, 50 cent movies, the labs in Moses Provine, crossing the bridge to the boy's dorms, playing racquetball at Sturgis, bowling class, Pam Arrington, Fran Coulter, Bill Steeger, Bud Fray, Ian and Sharon Cosh, Mark Baber, Mom Chu, Mom Rodgers, Mom Smith, Stephanie Hartsfield, Bryan Bullington, Kim Herndon, Karen Crouch, Brenda White, Dan Pennell, Anita Murdock, Chris Norris, Jennifer Mosely, Lydia Fowler, Sharon and Karen Ennis, Elmer DePaula, Eric Reddish, Becca Petty, Cindi Price, Robert and Sharon Pinkston, Dean Dixson, BSU Retreats at Camp Paron, mission trips to Washington D.C. and Zimbabwe, and the list goes on and on and on......of the places and people who impacted me and will forever be in my heart. I love Ouachita.