Thursday, June 29, 2017

How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm?

When I lived in Shreveport, I thought I would never leave. I grew up there. All my friends were there. My future was there. Right?

As a child in the back seat of my parents' car, we would drive past a little campus at the corner Kings Highway and Centenary Boulevard, one square mile around from start to finish. My mom says I always announced to no one in particular, "that's where I'm going to school."

In 1995, most of my friends went away to college, places like LSU or Louisiana Tech, some farther. As for me, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I drove myself right up the street to Centenary College and moved into James Dorm and stayed until 1999.

My dad wanted me to leave town for a bigger school, by my heart and mind were made up.

The first lesson I learned as a freshman at Centenary is perhaps the one I remember best: your true friends see past everything else, straight to your heart. The people I met in the first weeks of school are still the ones I call my besties.

The four years I spent at Centenary were some of the greatest of my life. They were the most fulfilling days, with friends, parties, sororities, fraternities, classes, professors. I found a freedom I did not know existed outside my mother's house, even though I never left my home town.

I stayed in the dorm until they kicked me out for the holidays, and I was one of the first to return when they swung the doors open once again.

Centenary was more than just an institution of higher learning. It was a safe haven, a shelter from the storm that was life at home.

My alma mater helped me grow as a person, realize the strength in my own independence, even landed me the internship that led to a rewarding 20-year career (and counting).

Then came that day when home was no longer home. It was time to leave Shreveport and Centenary behind and see what else was out there.

My father used to quote a song from World War I that I never fully understood growing up.

"How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" he would ask me.

I get it now, Dad, and you'll be happy to know that Centenary students get to travel to Paris their freshman year!