In the Spring of my Junior year in High School, I was invited to partake in a summer college prep program called Governor Scholars Program (GSP). GSP was a 5 week program, from mid June to late July, where students, based on their PSAT scores and entering their senior year, “lived” at one of 2 colleges/universities (now 3) in the state and got a taste of what college would be like. The 2 schools at that time were Center College in Danville, KY, and the campus that I was at, Northern Kentucky University, in Alexandria (near Cincinnati). While at each school, you lived with a roommate in a dorm, had 3-5 classes, scattered throughout each week, could choose extra curricular activities (like a Jazz Combo, Movie and Film Club, or Softball, for example), and had tons of social activities lined up per dorm and campus.
There were 7 friends from my high school that were at NKU also, along with 3 or 4 other friends from elementary and middle school. My roommate was a laid back, cool dude from Lexington named Fred Lin. I don’t quite remember all of my teachers’ names from then but I do remember taking a Modes of Mathematical Thinking class, a Cultural Anthropology class, and a Science class (might have been Chemistry). There was a 4th but it’s slipping my brain. The Math and Science classes met 3 times a week and the Anthropology once or twice a week (but for 2-3 hours each meeting). Fridays were free after lunch, which was on-campus in the cafeteria. There were assignments and homework, just like a normal classroom setting. However (at least with my classes), the work and teacher-student interaction was much more personal than high school classes. For example, in my Cultural Anthropology class, our class went to an elementary school for a week. We were paired up with a kid or kids and we basically shadowed them for the day: we learned about themand their families, played with them and their friends and classmates (which was MUCH more fun than I originally imagined it would be!), encouraged them, and stayed in touched with them afterwards. It was an eye-opener for a then 16-year old city boy to hear and see how life was for 6 and 7 year olds in a rural setting.
Dorm Life was a fun and interesting experience! I lived on floor A1 (“The Pit”), in Norse Hall, one of the 2 guy dorms. I wasn’t the most outgoing person but lunch was always a fun time for me to meet and mingle with people from the other dorms, as well as when I was in the computer lab or at some of the social events. The other guys in The Pit were pretty sociable, with a handful of them being a little crazier than the rest. There usually was something for us going on most nights, even if it was as simple as card games or UNO tournaments. A few of the other events, dorm and campus-wide, that I remember most fondly and/or vividly include:
– going to Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, to see the Reds play the Dodgers. The Reds are one of my 2 favorite baseball teams (the Atlanta Braves are the other) and this was my 1st time seeing them live
– Movie nights. There were movies that would play on campus at nights plus on weekends. They were a mix of current hits, older classics, and some lesser known films, all of them PG-13 or lower. I didn’t go to many of these nights, but the ones that I went to were enjoyable.
– A dorm-wide chess tournament. A good sized group of the guys in my dorm signed up. I am not a chess expert but I somehow made it to the 2nd round, where I lost to my RA, Craig.
– The Quick Recall tournament. This was interesting because 15 to 20 of the people in that tourney I either saw in previous “regular school seasons” or would run up against in my senior year season.
– The annual Sunrise Watch and fireworks. On the final full night of the program, there was a fireworks show. Afterwards, most of the GSPers stayed around for music, dancing, partying, and camaraderie, where we said our goodbyes and enjoyed the company one last time. It was an unforgettable night.
I learned a lot during that summer. I met many different people and friends from many different backgrounds and places. I lived away from home, and out my home town, for the first time. I went dancing – if you can call it that – for the first time. I wish that I had stayed in touch with some of the folks from then; I am glad that, via Facebook, I got back in touch with a couple of friends. I brought back home to Louisville a load of experiences and memories from what still remains perhaps the best summer of my life!