Monday, April 25, 2011

Golden Opportunity: I experienced Heritage

Before April 10th, my Waco weekend rituals had become routine: SLC, pool, friends, restaurants and, if I was up for it, homework. I started to feel like I was in a never-ending university limbo. Was junior year ever going to end?
But on Sunday April 10th, things got groovy.
My internship site, the Baylor Alumni Association, held their annual Heritage Club event honoring alumni who attended Baylor fifty or more years ago. Lucky for me, I got to shake up my weekend routine and attend.
I worked the registration table with Lisa. In my bright powder-yellow Baylor Alumni Association button-down and sun-burned nose, I greeted the Heritage Club members. I gave them their name tags and info packets. And I tell you what, I had a blast!
I complimented the women’s elaborate jewelry and bright outfits. It was adorable how all the couples color coordinated their outfits. One man even wore his Baylor slime cap; he claimed freshmen boys were forced to wear their slime caps until homecoming! Oh, I love Baylor traditions!
I’m a people-watcher, so this event was perfect for me. Sorting through the name tags at my table, I found that alumni have the most fun nicknames, like B.E. Ware, and my favorite, Colbert “Cokie” Held. Now he was a cutie.
Speaking with Dr. Held was the highlight of my weekend. He graduated from Baylor in 1937. I had so many amazing, interesting quotes from Dr. Held I couldn’t choose which ones to include in my newsletter article.
Talking with Dr. Held, I felt like I was in the presence of a celebrity or famous president. In the sweetest voice and 93-year-old smile, he told me about his love for Baylor and his experience working in the Foreign Service. After graduation, he spent years traveling all over the Middle East.
Yes, the Middle East! How exciting, me too. Having lived in Egypt and Kuwait for 11 years, I was ecstatic. We were suddenly on the same page. We both knew and loved the Middle East. We both understand the hardships the countries face.
Dr. Held is my new favorite person. In our conversation, I wasn’t just that young, sun-burned writing intern wandering around the room taking quotes. I was a new friend. I could have talked with him forever and never get bored.  
After Dr. Held left, I continued to ask people questions like “What are your favorite Baylor memories?”
I loved learning about the alumni’s memories and most of all, the romance. For example, I almost welled up with joy (and a little jealousy) listening to the Hill’s love story. Gene Hill ’60 met his wife, Eleanor ’61, in a Baylor geology class. They were lab partners. Gene told me: “We were supposed to be looking at rocks, but instead we were looking at each other.”
Talk about the perfect love story. They had also just celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary and had arrived to Waco earlier to watch their granddaughter dance in Baylor’s step-show Stompfest.
OK, I totally should’ve taken geology! 
Then there was Dr. Packard and his wife. Dr. Packard is an infamous Baylor physics teacher; after his fifty years teaching at Baylor, the intro physics class had become known as “Packard Physics.” He is loved, I can see why. He’s a charmer. His beautiful personality shined through his smile as he flipped through old editions of Baylor yearbooks. He showed me his wife’s picture. “Isn’t she beautiful?” Packard said.
Heritage Club was a blast.
But, it also made me freak out.  Gosh, what have I been doing all this time? Will I have the same beautiful memories in 50 years as all these Heritage Club members? 
I realize these college years count more than I thought. Instead of just counting down the days ‘til graduation, I need to get out and take every opportunity I can.
In 51 years I want to attend Heritage Club with as much enthusiasm and love for Baylor as these people have. I want to be happy with my life accomplishments. And I want to be able to look back at my college years with joy and laughter. No regrets.
So this new no-regrets way of thinking starts now.