While in the airport to take a flight to Charleston, Illinois, where my alma mater Eastern Illinois University (EIU) is located, I was reflecting on how my two return visits since graduating were beyond anything I could have imagined while a student. My first visit was to receive the Distinguished Alumna Award, and now I was returning to receive the Outstanding Alumna Award (read remarks) from the Graduate School and the Department of Student Development.
The first recognition was the same month and year I became executive director of NASPA, I believe. I remember as part of those remarks referencing how bittersweet the homecoming was. The bitter was reflecting on being a student at the university at a time when I felt neither welcome nor counted. I had the temerity to be there because the courts said I had a right to be there.
This time the visit had no bitter. Only sweet. Two African American graduate students took me on a tour of the campus, and everywhere I looked, there was racial diversity. All students looked as if they belonged at EIU. The progress made helped me think of all the benefits I have enjoyed as a graduate.
May we continue to progress as we serve a new diversity of students, that none might be hampered by barriers, but all might join me in seeing clearly the benefits of higher education…