I chose to attend JBU on a warm June night at 3 in the morning during a sleepover with my friends. I was thinking about how I wanted a cold glass of apple juice and how tired I was of not knowing where I was going to college. I had hoped that I would walk onto a college campus and just know that it was right for me, but my memory of JBU’s campus was of walking through the winter wind to scholarship interviews and panicking in one of the practice rooms in the cathedral before my piano audition. Still, by August I was unpacking my boxes into a musty Mayfield room.
I almost transferred out of JBU after my first year. After nine months, I still struggled with the fact that everyone else seemed to fit so perfectly at JBU, while I felt out of place. I worried that I did not feel at home because I had chosen the wrong college.
I have now learned that home is not merely a feeling, but a something we choose to create.
I was a junior before I ever walked onto campus and felt like I was truly at home. Maybe it took me two years to fit in or maybe discovering home in a place just takes time.
I could not find home from one campus visit, but I found home when I received caring texts from friends, when (now-retired) Dr. David Johnson prayed for me and Mrs. Jane Beers rescheduled my final after my grandfather passed away, when Dr. Aminta Arrington let me call her during the summer, when Lauren Lane and Morgan Morris from ResLife sat with me and my friends through crises, when Deb from the cafeteria (caf) greeted me and the guy who cooked me omelettes knew my order and made it for me as soon as I walked into the caf.
I found home in my Mayfield room and during late night study sessions in the library and at impromptu game nights and in class as we studied the classics or neuroscience or music theory. I found home despite ruined friendships, strenuous classes, family issues and the looming stress of student loans.
I found home because at every turn there was a friend, a professor, a classmate, a custodian who created a home for me.
The road from my home-town to Siloam Springs is twisted, winding and curvy, stretching through rocky plains and peaceful valleys. When I drive this bent road, I often cannot see what lies around the curves and through the trees.
For four years I have driven this road, and as I make my final trips back to JBU, I become more and more grateful that the paths that lead me to JBU are not straight and simple, but twisted and blinding. This road reminds me of where I have been and how I have grown. These roads remind me that I have the opportunity to create a home for others on campus, even if only for the next three months. As I prepare for new adventures, I cannot see what lies on the road ahead. But I hold this memory dear: the memory of travelling the dark roads to JBU and finding home.