Nearly 45 years ago, I walked across a huge stage to accept my college diploma. Graduating from Eastern Illinois University was exciting and melancholy at the same time. Although I was proud of what I had accomplished, I was NOT ready to leave the world I was living in.
I LOVED going to EIU. Learning and laughing and experiencing life for the first time on my own helped to mold me into the woman I am today. It resurrected an independence in me that I didn’t even know existed and I found confidence to face my new life. On the other hand, I didn’t want to leave the safety of my friends and everything that had become familiar to me.
Not really having a choice, I took that diploma, packed my bags and headed out into the world of grown-ups. My life took me in many different directions, but my path never led me back to Charleston, Illinois and Eastern Illinois University.
That is, until this past weekend!!! Through the power of social media, and in this case, LinkedIn, I commented on a post written by someone who worked at EIU. Through that comment, a couple of lovely young ladies reached out to me, visited me in my home town, then invited me back to my Alma Mater for a football game. How could I resist.
Stepping back on campus after all those years opened a floodgate of memories. I was treated like royalty and taken on a tour of my old dorm – even my old room. That was followed by more tours, dinner at the Victory Suite for the football game, and even a copy of the yearbook from my senior year. I felt special and grateful and overwhelmed at how friendly and genuinely happy people were to see me.
So, today, I’d like to sincerely thank Eastern Illinois University for making me Queen for a Day. May everyone experience a day as special as you created for me. And may I be able to pay it forward and create such a memorable experience for someone else.