"Postcard leads to college dreams"
Don't knock a postcard. It's how I first heard about CLU.
This was my life, circa 2006. The eldest of four, I lived in Saint Louis, Missouri, in the city area known as South Saint Louis, not the surrounding smaller counties like Brentwood and Kirkwood. My house was across a very busy street from a Dairy Queen and my alma mater Catholic high school. I was a senior at that time and because it was so often drilled into my head by my college counselor, a participant in a variety of different after school programs (Costume Crew Head for all of our Drama Club play productions, editor of the yearbook, anchor for the morning announcements, etc.). I also worked two jobs, one at Panera Bread and the other at Subway.
One of my managers referred to me that year as "supergirl" but let me tell you, Supergirl had a bad case of Senioritis. I felt completely bored and turned off from school. I was beyond burned out. College was a place I knew I would go to but no school excited me at all.
12 straight years of schooling can do that to you. All I wanted to do was lay down in the grass at the park by my house, read The Onion, laugh until my mouth hurt, and take a big nap.
Instead I sat in a green room for three hours listening to the cast of A Midsummer's Night Dream go way too overly dramatic for a bunch of freshmen parents and bored classmates needing the ticket stub for English class credit.
I applied to a couple of colleges around October because of that magic phrase "early decision", which according to my college counselor was a good thing. My goal was to leave Saint Louis and travel somewhere new. I thought of college as a four year vacation from reality so it needed to be somewhere I would enjoy myself. I was convinced that I wanted to go East Coast and my schools were in the New York area. It was definitely not for me but you can't tell a headstrong 18 year old what is right for her and what isn't. Especially me, with my head swimming with aspirations of growing up to be like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City.
I applied to three different schools but wasn't jazzed on any of them. I was accepted to two and the third rejected me and even mistook my name as "Richard." That was pretty damn funny.
I still wasn't going to these schools. I couldn't picture myself at either one.
One afternoon, I received a postcard in the mail. This postcard was of a small building surrounded by warm brown mountains and a rainbow gently sprayed across the scene, raining down a twinkling of colors. I saw this place, Cal Lutheran University, and all of a sudden, poof!
This was the one.
I applied and sent in my transcripts, essays, even a photo of myself. After Googling the death out of Cal Lutheran and the Thousand Oaks area, it seemed absolutely "choice", to borrow a word of wisdom from Ferris Bueller. Beautiful area, great school, close to LA, was there anything this school could do wrong?
Sadly enough, yes. I was accepted to CLU that March and I wouldn't be able to go because in order to fully pay for the school, I needed to take out a loan and this loan would have to be one I would pay for myself.
I cried a lot when it sunk in that this school slipped out of my hands before I even had a chance to grab it. The worst of it was that on my graduation practice night handout, typed up was Heather Taylor: Cal Lutheran, my school I was supposed to go to, but would not for all 200 of my classmates to see. They all knew I wasn't going as did the school administration but because my high school was Catholic; the school's denominational image was still perfectly intact.
Despite this setback, I refused to cry anymore and I picked myself up. I filled out an application to a local community college to get all of my General Education courses out of the way. I applied the last week of school and was accepted on my graduation day (kids, do NOT attempt to apply this last minute to any school). I spent the next year and a half working at the good ole Subway and Panera with my best friends and going to school at Meramec, the college out in Kirkwood. I didn't particularly like Meramec but I made the most of the experience, joining the school newspaper and being nominated for a writing award for an article I wrote on Stephen Colbert.
I never stopped thinking about CLU. It was on the back burner lobe of my brain. In January of 2008, I applied again, this time submitting all the usual application suspects plus a fatty portfolio of articles I had written. My application was sent in on the late side and I didn't get a response until May which was of acceptance.
Round two! This time, I grabbed this school tight and held on. Nothing, and I mean nothing, would stop me from going here.
Right now, I'm a senior at CLU. Initially there was a small struggle of not knowing a single person or having had never been to the state of California before but I am pleased to say that all of these struggles have been good for me. Great, actually! I didn't sit there and feel sorry for myself or find someone to whine to. This was what I wanted. I looked at myself and saw how hard I had worked to be able to attend CLU and said I'll find a way. I have been working since I was 11 and I'm not about to stop now.
I've made some incredible friends here, the majority of which I live with. I have been very thankful to be randomly registered for some of my classes my first semester because otherwise, how would I have met my phenomenal English writing instructor Dr. Mogk or my engaging Communications teacher Mr. Waisanen, whom I hold in very high regard and admire. All of my hard work teaches me to fully appreciate what I am so lucky to have. Cal Lutheran is home to me. I cannot imagine being anywhere else.
Keep mailing those postcards. You never know who you may change the life of.
I wanted to give back to my Lutheran heritage so I started teaching at CLU and this has been a perfect fit for me.
I never had much experience working with international students and am really enjoying learning so many different things about other countries.
Today, 37 years later, I still remember my arrival and do not regret it.
His mission in life was to complete his degree and walk for both of them in the boy's memory.
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