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College Days Reflection


I am officially a Golden Grad of Tennessee Technological University.  At a banquet last Thursday night, TTU’s president placed a medallion around my neck and offered congratulations.
During the reception hour before the banquet, we 1969 graduates mingled and squinted to read nametags.  We talked about where we live, how many children and grandchildren we have, and how long we’ve been retired. The longer I talked with someone the more I remembered. Wrinkles and extra pounds don’t hide eyes and smiles. 
The TTU alumni office published and gave each of us a Class of 1969 Memory Book which includes pictures of the university, then and now, and individual pictures and personal updates that we submitted.  We were asked to share treasured memories, favorite professors, and most celebrated life events. 
A treasured memory is when I walked for the first time across campus with Allen, who was Husband three years later.  Allen and I walked from the Student Center, across the quad, past Derryberry Hall, to the science building for my chemistry class. Mrs. Charlene Mullins, who taught family life classes in the Home Economics department, was a favorite teacher. With her gentle voice and calm demeanor, she created classrooms that were as secure and comforting as kitchen tables.  And my most celebrated life events are about people: Husband, Children, Grands.
Fifty years ago, I earned a B.S. degree and teaching certificates that qualified me to teach home economics (a subject in high school many years ago), general science, and grades 1-8.  But some of the greatest benefits of my college years aren’t printed on paper.
Four years of living in a dormitory, a two-person room, and a hallway bathroom shared with twenty other girls developed tolerance and patience.  And those girls, my roommate and hallway dorm mates, became life long friends.  Friends who have shared joys and troubles regularly; at one time by a chain letter, but now by texts and emails. 
As a member of a sorority, I learned to agree to disagree while maintaining respect for others, to accept majority rule, and to work with a committee (which to this day I don’t like, but the experiences taught me how). I learned that little things, like the color of napkins for a party isn’t important.  Respecting people’s feelings and accepting differences are. 
I was given the opportunity to be a leader and take on the responsibilities of an elected office.  If I didn’t complete a class assignment, I suffered the consequence of a bad grade. If I didn’t complete and turn in a required sorority form to the Dean of Women, my forty sisters suffered. 
My life would have been very different had I not attended college. Not left home and lived and studied at TTU.  Not been a member of a group and not completed a degree. 
Two days that made the great differences in my life were the day I enrolled and the day I graduated from college. Those deserve celebration. Thank you Tennessee Tech University for honoring us Golden Grads.