Every year when school starts I meet new people and after the exchanging of names, I get asked my all-time favorite question; “where are you from?”
The expectation of hearing I’m from somewhere far, foreign or exotic slips away from their mind when I say I’m from Natchitoches, the city our university is located in. I gently nod as they stare me down, before asking, “why did you decide to stay here?” The simple answer is because I wanted to, although that was not always the case.
March of my senior year in high school, two months from graduating, I was still debating with my parents about where to go in the fall. I had always wanted to go to a college in Louisiana, but I wanted to be in a dorm, away from home, going on 3:00 AM Taco Bell runs with my unknown roommate. It’s an unspoken code in Natchitoches that you’re broke, too dumb or just lame if you go to Northwestern State University (yes there’s a Northwestern in Louisiana). I was determined to not let that stigma plague me and swore I’d never go there.
My parents wanted me to stay and live at home, but to commute never sounded appealing until a few weeks later.
A friend of mine had decided to attend NSU and told me about a “preview day” for high school juniors and seniors the university hosted and encouraged me to tag along. I had applied to NSU with my mother’s pushing along with three other schools, and I thought to myself “I have nothing to lose,” so I went.
From the opening session, listening to the university president, recruiting staff and watching the lively performances from orientation leaders and spirit groups, I was mesmerized. Sure I’d lived in Natchitoches for years and had visited the campus multiple times, but I had never experienced it like this. At that moment Northwestern felt like home; everyone seemed like one big family. Every negative feeling I had about the university left my mind as I realized I had never even given it a chance.
Normally I was a pretty independent thinker and was rarely influenced by outside voices, but for the first time I had allowed the opinions of others to sway a decision one shouldn’t make lightly. I left senior day that evening happy, content and 100% sure that I would be attending Northwestern State University in the fall, and I did.
Of course I got the sideways glances from my classmates about deciding to stay in Natchitoches and live at home. For minute I even doubted my decision; a feeling I quickly shook off especially after making one of the university’s dance lines two weeks later. I silenced the critics, registered for freshman orientation later in the summer and prepared to become a Demon.
When the fall came I was super excited, but extremely nervous as well. I had the luxury of waking up in a familiar city, but I still had no idea what to expect. I couldn’t find a place to park, got lost trying to find my classes, and carefully scanned the classroom before selecting a seat. The day was a blur, but from there I dove head first into campus life meeting people and joining organizations. I was dead set on not becoming just another commuter, falling in love with NSU along the way.
Don’t be mistaken. The journey hasn’t always been smooth or easy. Sometimes the pros of staying with my parents, like no rent and home-cooked meals every night didn’t outweighed the cons, but I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world. Fast forward to the present where I’m now a graduating senior and a member of over eight organizations, with executive positions in almost all of them. Thanks to this university I’ve developed my leadership skills, joined a sorority, found my passion for journalism and made friends and memories I’ll cherish forever. I scored my dream internship in New York City this past summer with the help of a few of my professors and have made the university’s Homecoming Honor Court twice. With the attitude that I wasn’t just going to sit around, I got the best of both world’s; being around my family and experiencing college life to the fullest.
Best of all I never thought I would be representing my university with the highest honor of Miss Northwestern State University voted on by my peers. Me; A little, ole commuter, and to think I almost missed my blessing.
I guess that’s why you should never say never.