Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dreams of The University of the South

One of my favorite southern places to go is Sewanee: The University of the South. It is the home of one of the nation's top liberal arts colleges, a School of Letters, and a seminary of the Episcopal Church. When I graduated from high school, almost 40 years ago, it was one of my three choices of colleges I planned to attend. The other two were UCLA and University of Appalachia in Boone, NC. When I realized my choices were not going to happen I moved on to lesser choices like Andrews College in Cuthbert, GA. I attended Palm Beach Junior College (loving named Peanut Butter and Jelly College)for two years and then eventually graduated from Auburn University. I got a good education. I did things the hard way...and before I was able to finish all four years of college I was married and had I never did the soro life, never lived on campus, I commuted. I am notorious for doing everything the hard way, so college was no exception. I studied after my kids went to bed, never missed a little league game, never missed a child pick up or cupcakes delivery...I did it all.

This college,known simply as "Sewanee" by the students, faculty, staff, travelers, and friends, offers an unmatched educational experience. The University remains purposefully small and dedicated to building a sense of community. All of the classes are taught by professors, not graduate teaching assistants, and close faculty-student interaction ensures that each student enjoys a rich and personal educational experience. It is not unusual for students and faculty members to work shoulder to shoulder on research projects and journal articles, to meet for coffee at a local eatery, or to serve together as members of the University orchestra, volunteer fire department, and other civic groups. This campus is in a very small rural area.

The University can boast of 25 Rhodes Scholars--a number that puts Sewanee in the top four nationally among American liberal arts colleges--as well as 26 NCAA Postgraduate Fellows, 36 Watson Fellows, and dozens of Fulbright Scholars, and has an acceptance rate to graduate and professional schools that far outpaces its peers. The School of Theology has added to its alumni ranks countless bishops, including three of the last four presiding bishops of the Episcopal Church.

At Sewanee you can chose from 36 majors, 27 minors, and 15 special programs, along with pre-medicine, pre-nursing, pre-law, and pre-business. More than 40 percent of students participate in study-abroad programs, and a comprehensive endowed program that provides financial support for summer internships has greatly strengthened career development for undergraduates.

Why was I drawn to this school? Well, the University sits atop the Cumberland Plateau between Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Sewanee's physical environment, which includes the 13,000-acre Domain (as the campus and surrounding area is known), provides a remarkable academic and recreational resource, and an unparalleled place in which to study and reflect. It invites students to engage in both a multitude of outdoor activities and careful study of the natural environment. I have always been drawn to the Appalachians. I used to dream of being a teacher like the one in the Catherine Marshall book, "Christy." I could see myself teaching grades 1-6 in a small one room school house hidden somewhere in the example of Karen's movie life. I also envision myself busting out into song at the right moment. Where is that reality check?

Anyways, I love the classrooms, they look like something straight out of Oxford or Cambridge in England...and reek of "Dead Poet's Society." But the thing that I love the most about the campus is the huge cross I discovered on the side of the mountain. As I was driving down a rural road in the area the sun broke through the shade of the trees and there it was...and I just had to capture the moment. It was a reminder to me that no matter where you travel...God is there. I am living proof that God has a plan for you...and it does not matter what YOUR plans were...God has a way of working them to his advantage. Remind me to tell you the story of Juliard proof that God exists.

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