Well, it would seem after a week like last week when Tiger Tunes tickets went on sale, that I would have had a great opportunity to reflect in the days leading up to Thursday, about the wonderful place that I call home. 

Yes, I’m one of the lucky ones….those who live in Arkadelphia and call OUACHITA – employer!

Two weeks after I graduated, I walked into Cone-Bottoms for my first day of work.  6 years later, I find myself at a different place, a different woman, a different understanding about Ouachita, but the same (well, if I’m honest, its different too!) love for the place that I call home.

Today, September 6th, is Ouachita’s 124th Birthday – yeah, that’s old.  Its seen economic times like the depression, WWII, early 80’s and 2009!  Its lived to tell the stories of different curfews for men and women.  Its changed athletic conferences several times, each with its own set of competitions  – but none rival that of those stinkin’ Reddies across the street.  Its had several face lifts and is recovering  very nicely from its most recent procedure!

But, through all those road turns, set backs, accomplishments and visionary fortitude, it has remanded the same.  A prestigious (yes, I feel that confident in it!) 4- year, private, Christian (yes there is a difference in Private and Christian) academic institution.  Its commitment to educating young men and women in a moral, ethical, Christian environment has not wavered. 

Some criticize that it is too protective, I’m so grateful for that.  Some criticize that it does not expose you enough to the real world, I say thank goodness.  Some wonder if you can fully understand and prepare to work in the cut-throat corporate world when you are nurtured through a Christian academic environment, I say even more so.  You see – we were lead, well “assisted” through an amazing time of self- discovery.  And, I think when you are shown the way and not thrown to the wolves, you come out a different person on the other side.

Yes, you will automatically do some serious life growing from 18 -22, no matter what environment you are in.  I’m grateful that I resided at 410 Ouachita for those years!

You see, the people I met there made all the difference.  Yes, I had a great education, that I am so proud of.  But, I was completely surrounded by people who cared about ME.  From the President to my roommates (all whom I knew on a first name basis, mind you), I knew people there would love me and care for me despite the self-discovery process I was on.

And, I know that it was God’s divine intervention that had me at Ouachita during my cancer journey.  From the moment I discovered “the lump” to the day I heard the word remission, there was not a moment that my Ouachita friends did not surround me.  Those are times I will cherish all my life and forever be grateful for.

The girls I lived with at Ouachita are some of my very best friends – I always tell people these are the girls I call when I want to celebrate a victory or be surrounded by during a crisis (and we have done both).  Every time we get back together it feels like we are back on the 4th floor of Maddox hall or running that halls of Frances Crawford. 

Speaking of Frances Crawford, I was in there a couple weeks ago for move-in weekend and I kinda got a little teary talking to some freshmen girls about the memories I made in that building.  I can walk in the lobby and the smell can take me back (no its not bad…just distinct!) to late night conversations about boys and being away from mom, making food concoctions with our microwaves and whatever we could find in our “pantry”, to writing Liberal Arts papers for each other, to getting ready for TWIRP (our version of a Sadie Hawkins week), to cleaning up the mess that was made over the Holiday weekends when we forgot to clean out our fridge.  I think about walking in there hot and sweaty from intramural football games and first kisses.  I think about that Saturday morning in January when all the social clubs came through to “gather” their new members.  I think about Saturday’s getting up late, going for an Arby’s run, watching football and Lifetime movies.  I think about late night Taco Bell and Wal-mart runs.  I think about putting my laundry on to wash on the first floor and bringing my kitchen timer back to my room so I didn’t let it “rest” in there before putting it in the dryer only to find my pile of wet clothes sitting on the table because I waited too long.  I remember rearranging our rooms after our moms left because we didn’t like the way it was set up.  I remember that blue phone we used in our room before we all had cell phones.  I remember loosing that stupid TCU shirt and turning our room upside down to find it.  I remember the buzz of the air conditioner b/c we always kept it on high.  I remember praying with my parents and my roommate and her parents after we left New Beginning before WOW and not knowing what all lay ahead.  I remember crying and journaling about the “traumatic” things that were happening. 

Somehow, I don’t remember meeting the girls across the hall…we were just friends.  And, somehow I don’t remember how I made it onto a freshman girls football team (especially given my nonathletic background), but I did.  I remember that the first day of my work-study job in the athletic office, I miss spelled the word “University” on a form for the conference and had to re-type it on a typewriter.  I remember the night the girl across the hall from me fell off her loft her dad made and broke her arm.  I remember the day I gave a girl a concussion in those previously mentioned football games and I broke my middle finger…(not in the same incident!) and my mom and dad told me that I was banned from playing…I didn’t listen and re-broke the same finger the next year…that really made it hard to type my Liberal Arts paper. 

I loved it and I truly consider myself a lucky one.  Lucky that I finally listened to my 10th grade Sunday School teachers back in the “Crooked-I” who told me I would love this place (and so sad I missed up all those opportunities they gave me to come with them to Tiger Tunes).  Lucky that I had an amazing work study job that really opened the door for me to get a job on campus.  Lucky that I got that call on Wed of my senior year finals week  – asking me if I wanted to come interview for a new job they had created at Ouachita.  Lucky that I got the job and thankful that I’m still here.

Here’s good luck to Ouachita
May all her skies be gay (we were established in 1886 when that word meant something completely different)
Come along and sing the song
A loud Hip-Hip- Hooray

**Ouachita alumni (or friends, too!) join the BlogAbout.  Simply write about your favorite Ouachita memories and either leave a comment on my blog with a link, or email your link to motll@obu.edu and Lori will tag you on our special website www.obu.edu/blogabout.  Oh, and make sure and encourage your readers to do the same.  I cant wait to hear about your Ouachita memories.  For more information, check out the BlogAbout story.**