It was mid-July 2000, and after turning down the possibility of a softball scholarship, along with scholarships through the school of Construction at Mississippi State University, I decided to plant my roots at the University of Southern Mississippi. Why you ask, we will get to that later.
Arriving at Southern Miss
I enrolled late, even though I had been accepted to Southern Miss since early June. Luckily, my roommate was a fellow graduate from high school and we welcomed the familiarity of one another on our move in weekend to college, Preview! That’s what it was called, “back in my day”. It is what you know now as GEWW. It was wonderful! My parents were there Saturday for their sessions and then left me to “take root” and get to know the pathways and halls my dad had once called home before graduating in 1966. That’s right, I am a Legacy. Preview was amazing, we painted the eagle walk, got a tour of the campus (at which time I made a point to walk to every class from the previous one on my schedule so I would not be late the first day of school), I even read the “required” book over the summer and went to the author session. I was in college now, I had finally arrived…or had I.
Since I was a late arrival I was placed in Scott Hall. It was sad that I did not get to experience the Freshman Quad, but soon enough I would have many chances to be invited to everything. Involvement was everywhere! Signs for parties, club meetings, Homecoming, everything you could imagine right at my fingertips. All I had to do was show up. Remember my mention of that reason for not going to MSU, well here it was…I was in a relationship and he was a senior in high school, meaning I didn’t want to “show up” alone. I did not take full advantage of anything my freshman year because I waited for him to “arrive” and “take root”. I have to say, one mistake I made my freshman year was not finding something to get involved in. I did however take notice of the sign-up sheet to apply to be a Resident Assistant. I applied and was accepted for my sophomore year. My parents were duly excited since my tuition would be cut in half for an entire year!
I enjoyed being a RA and I began to make friendships that would last a lifetime. I even met ladies that I would soon call sisters and it was a good thing because I was going to need that support. Like most things that are shiny fade, so did my relationship. I was devastated. But, I had friends in RHA and new sisters to help me through my time of need. By the beginning of my junior year I was also in 2 honor societies. Once I went out fully on my own, no attachments, I finally let myself “take root” on this glorious campus. My involvement became my stronghold, my encouragement, my strength.
Growing through opportunities
I began to see the possibilities and characteristics I could and did possess. My confidence grew and I knew by my senior year that this was my home. So, why does involvement matter in college? How did being involved help me? My involvement helped me though a time of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem; things that most college students experience at least once. By breaking down the uncomfortable barrier that being new brings, I left myself open for others to see the possibilities in me.
Because I was involved I grew, emotionally and professionally. It helped me learn how to work in groups, collaborate, and build relationships. Being involved in more than just class helped me to prioritize my tasks and my time, and be more organized. I felt so comfortable by graduation that I didn’t want to leave. I had finally “arrived”.
In fact, I was gone for 2 years and 4 months before receiving a job and coming home to Southern Miss where I have continued to get involved, collaborate, build relationships, and grow; attributes that have not gone unnoticed. I would like to encourage you to get involved, participate, build relationships, and grow. Break through that wall of uncertainty and let your characteristics shine through. Remember, we all have wants; we all have the potential to obtain those wants, but what sets a Golden Eagle apart from the rest is the desire to spread our wings and rise to the top.
Forever To The Top-
April L Woodall | Administrative Assistant | Union and Programs