Once upon a time, in the magical land of Augusta, Georgia, there lived a slightly awkward, somewhat nerdy but totally awesome (at least she thought so) tomboy named Lauren. She enjoyed beating boys in soccer, sneakily reading Harry Potter under the covers, and mixing Limited Too scrunchies with Umbro shorts.
Flash forward ten years:
Lauren grew out of her awkward stage (at least she thought so), realized that girls could dress cute and still be good at sports, and possibly even developed something slightly resembling social skills. She also discovered the miracles of contact lenses and bangs.
That’s where I come in! (Talking in the third person eases the pain of those awkward, dark years. Or something.) I’m a senior at Mississippi College and absolutely love life here in Clinton. But truth be told, four years ago I would have never imagined being anywhere near this state at any point in my life.
Like most other high schoolers, I faced the daunting task of picking a college my senior year. I was a bit of an amalgam during high school, which made picking a university that much harder. I didn’t quite fit into any of the high school stereotypes: I was a three-sport jock who also served as yearbook editor and sang in honors ensemble, and a procrastinator who took AP classes but always waited until the last minute and had a penchant for all day napping. My two senior superlatives? Most Likely to Succeed AND Most Likely to Sleep in Class. Go figure. This picture was posted underneath them in the school yearbook… I wish I was kidding.
By the winter of senior year, I had my colleges narrowed down to two options:
- Covenant College, a small private school where lots of my friends already went. I won Education and athletic scholarships, but I would have had to play volleyball all four years and couldn’t change my major. As someone who enjoys her freedom, I hated having the next four years so controlled.
- Emory University, a Southern Ivy ranked as one of the top 20 universities in the nation. For most people, this would be a pretty obvious choice. But even though I won an academic scholarship, I would still have to take out student loans and also maintain a pretty ridiculous GPA. It certainly didn’t help that the school is notorious for being one of the most liberal colleges in the eastern United States, and that did NOT impress my parents. Once again, way too much constraint on my freedom. I need some space, bro!
Little did I know, my mother took it upon herself to secretly apply me to about a bajillion other Christian universities across the US. One afternoon, I got a phone call from a guy named Michael Wright, an admissions counselor at some school named Mississippi College. He apparently LOVED my application and wanted me to come meet him and interview for a scholarship… Obviously I had no idea what he was talking about, but major props to my Mom for apparently making me look really good on paper. Because who wouldn’t want to come meet this guy?
Even though I really didn’t care about the school and had no interest whatsoever in actually attending, I figured a college visit would be a perfect way to get out of school for a few days without having to fake sick while still getting to visit a new place. In the insane depths of my overactive imagination I began viewing the trip as a potential real-life adaptation of this:
The kicker? Michael wanted me to write an essay overnight and be there in two days. (For those of you that know him, TYPICAL. Love you, Miguel!) I’m a bit of a free spirit, so this kind of last-minute trip was right up my alley (and the biggest stressor imaginable for my Army Veteran father, but I’d like to think it built some character in him that week).
Two days later, we packed up my Mom’s baby blue minivan and trekked down I-20 with absolutely no expectations. But as we pulled up eight hours later to this beautiful sight, things changed drastically.
After spending 483 miles on I-20, I was nervously wondering what I had gotten myself into. But as we turned off Exit 36 and pulled onto campus, I was shocked at how natural things felt, as if I was driving home for the first time in years. I tried SO hard to hate this place, but things kept falling into place in such a ridiculous manner it became blatantly obvious that God clearly had me there for a reason.
Jesus apparently knew that I would need some serious convincing, because my tour was led by two of the greatest people I’ve ever met on this campus. One was a fellow Georgia girl from a rival high school that loved the UGA Bulldogs as much as I did and ended up winning the much-deserved title of Homecoming Queen, and the other became SGA President and still remains one of the most encouraging and influential people in my life to this day.
At this point, my story becomes pretty identical to anyone else’s around Clinton. During my campus visits, literally everyone I talked to was overwhelmingly friendly and even complete strangers would say hello and ask how I was enjoying my visit. All of the professors in my department that I met seemed incredible and wise, a group of girls already managed to get me extremely excited for rush, and the strawberry smoothies at Jazzman’s completely changed my life. I mean even the squirrels on campus seemed unnaturally friendly!
I’d be lying if I said the past 3+ years have been perfect. But while I’ve certainly faced my share of tough circumstances and difficult experiences, they are all completely overshadowed by the countless hilarious, amazing, and unforgettable memories I’ve made so far!