I’ve always wanted to be a writer. When I was younger I wrote poetry and received positive feedback. I worked on the yearbook committee in junior high and enjoyed my high school AP English class with Mr. Carter. I would have been on the school newspaper but Mr. Ridgway was the newspaper teacher and he scared me.
Mr. Ridgway taught sophomore advanced English. He was known to scare his new students during his initial class of the year to gain their respect. He would find a student who did not establish continuous eye contact with him, embarrass that student by yelling at the person “if you’re not going to pay attention, you can leave my class now,” and kick an empty metal trash can across the room to establish his dominance. Guess who the lucky victim was? I have emotional scars.
I attended the University of Colorado, Boulder, and my goal was to apply to Journalism or “J-School,” as it became affectionately known. Freshman were required to take two years of general studies before applying to the school. The criteria to be accepted was tough – excellent grades, stellar recommendation letters and a persuasive letter, specifying why the student wanted entrance into the school. Only 30 students were annually chosen out of 300 or more applicants.
It was due to God’s grace that I was able to go to college. I moved up to college without the funds for the first semester. I just had a peace that God was going to help me, and he did. The third week I was at school, I finally relaxed because financing came through (student loans, work study and grants).
I felt that I was supposed to be a writer. As you can tell, I am not particularly eloquent. I wasn’t a terrific speller and I knew enough grammar to get by. I wanted to be a writer because when I wrote, I experienced pure joy. It was something uniquely mine. And, people other than my mother enjoyed reading what I wrote. I loved hearing and telling people’s stories because they were uniquely theirs. God blessed my writing to accomplish what he intended.
I worked my way through college, at times holding down two or three jobs to cover school costs, housing, etc. I also carried up to 17 credit hours so, admittedly, some classes didn’t receive the proper attention they deserved. After two years, my GPA was a strong B which was not impressive when compared to other J-School applicants. It wasn’t uncommon for students to apply several times before becoming accepted. Some students were never accepted and had to choose another major because ultimately graduation was the goal.
Several close friends spent time writing and revising their letters. I had convinced myself, and others, that I would take another semester of classes to raise my grades before applying but the truth was, I was afraid. I wanted a degree in Journalism more than anything and, were that hope dashed by a rejection letter, I wasn’t sure my soul would survive.
One of my jobs was working as a secretary at the National Wildlife Federation Law Office. The night before the deadline, I typed up my acceptance letter on their computer and dropped off my packet at the J-School office the next day. Then I prayed, “Lord, if you want me to be accepted, please bless my efforts.”
Several weeks later, the results were posted. By then I had told a few people that I had applied so I asked a friend to check for me because I didn’t have the nerve to go myself. I can’t really express the feelings of relief, gladness and light-heartedness I felt when I learned that both my friend and I had been accepted. That fall I would be choosing the most amazing classes in J-School, moving closer to my dream.
Professor Ridgway, by the way, transferred to the University of Colorado, Boulder, J-School during my tenure. I found out that he was an especially nice guy and treated J-School college students with more respect than sophomore high school victims. He was an excellent teacher and highly regarded Journalism professional. God works in mysterious ways!