So if I haven’t already told you, I have an English degree from the University of Science & Arts in Chickasha, OK. I almost hate telling people what kind of degree I have because it often leads to assumptions of fine-tuned prose complete with grammar that would make my 3rd grade teacher beam with pride. I wish. I rely heavily on spell check, and even after all these years, I still spell the same words incorrectly over and over. Funnily enough, advanced grammar was one of my favorite courses at USAO, taught by the fabulous Dr. Webb. I admittedly found a measure of joy in diagramming sentences. 😉
Since I already wrote a post on endorsements, I thought I would take the opportunity to endorse my Alma mater. To begin with, I had always dreamed of attending the University of Texas (calm down, Okies.) Growing up in Austin, I loved visiting the campus with its funky coffee shops, rich history, and throngs of pot-smoking college kids. As a teenager, my friends as I would hang out on the Drag at the UT campus frequenting places like Dobie Mall, Quackenbushes, and Urban Outfitters. We wanted so badly to be cool. Actually, those friends are really kind of cool now, while I am not. Oh well. I am happy! Nevertheless, we liked to pretend we were hip, college girls who drank smoothies and wore mary-jane flats, but we were just lowly high school freshmen. Like we cared.
So I had my sights set on UT for quite some time with little though to things like tuition and majors. Most of my pals from Austin didn’t end up going to UT either; they went to more practical, less expensive schools like Southwest Texas University (now called Texas State) in San Marcos.
When we moved to Oklahoma the summer before my sophomore year, I tried to keep the dream alive. It was really my sly plan to escape Oklahoma and make it back to my sweet Texas. God had other plans when he captured my heart a year later and showed me that He had much bigger things in store than I could ever imagine. He’s always doing that; I just love that about Him!
I began applying to colleges my senior year of high school (yes this was back in the day when you waited til your senior year to do that….what is it now, the 8th grade?!) and unfortunately, I had not applied myself very well in my studies while at Ryan High School. Since school was so incredibly boring, I immersed myself in church and got by doing what I needed to do at school. Hindsight in 20/20. I do wish I had made a tad more effort, but what does that matter now?! My GPA wasn’t great enough to warrant any fabulous scholarships so I soon found myself destined for USAO in Chickasha with a theater scholarship.
What’s laughable about this is that I had never been in a play except for some skits at church. It was so long ago, that part is kind of a blur to me. I was just happy to be moving out on my own! After a few years of messing around and trying various majors, I finally settled down in an English major, where I should have been all along. I took to it like a duck to water.
USAO is a small school, though growing nestled in a country town. It’s like a town within a town. I have to say that I feel like I received a stellar education. Since my first few years were spent trying virtually every kind of class the school has to offer, I can tell you personally that every department is equipped with absolutely brilliant professors. The majority of mine were PhDs. Not only that, I was often in classes with less than 20 people, and my professors knew my name – which wasn’t always a positive thing, especially when I knew I had written a paper over a book I completely skimmed.
My English classes, especially Shakespeare, Advanced Composition, Advanced Grammar, and all my comp courses with Dr. Brown were amazing and challenging. I loved working in the writing lab . . . “For the last time, I will NOT write your paper!” I loved chatting mindlessly with Dr. Frankland who was strange and cool and brilliant. I miss it. I miss the feeling of always moving towards a goal – graduation, yet in my case, never really wanting to get there and being completely sad when I did. In fact, had it not been for moving to Tennessee I might have just gone to school forever.
What’s ironic is that when I did graduate, I did not get to walk. I registered too late for the actual ceremony. Other people were more upset about it than I was. I guess I thought to myself, “I really didn’t want to graduate anyway.” So not walking across that stage was a good thing.
Here I am 6 years later actually using my degree to make a living. I have to give my props to the USAO English department for not only providing me with the tools to make a living out of something I love, but to have the guts to pursue it.
Yes, I know – this post is brimming over with cheese – deal with it! 😉