20 Years

I graduated from the University of Texas twenty years ago today. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

The word “old” comes to mind.

My time in college was very pivotal for me. I changed more in those four years than I have during any other four year span of my life. And most of the changes were good…IMHO.

I grew up in a small town, population barely 2000. Then I went to one of the largest public university systems in the country.

I was exposed to more variety of people and ideas in four years than I had come into contact with all of the previous 18 years combined. It was shocking at first, but ultimately, my experiences at Texas were eye opening.

Shortly after I graduated, The University started an advertising campaign with the slogan “What starts here changes the world.” That about sums things up for me. I’m not saying I’ve changed the world. My ego isn’t that inflated. But what I started there definitely changed my world. That, more than anything else, is why I still value my time at Texas so much. I came out of that experience a much better person in the end.

I also made some very good friends. I’m not that close to them anymore, but we were a tight bunch who helped each other out when things got rough. As insignificant as I would sometimes feel at a school that big, especially at the beginning, I knew I wasn’t alone.

One of those friends passed away last week. We’d kept in contact a bit through social media, but I hadn’t actually seen her in person since we graduated. She was an educator as well, which didn’t surprise me a bit. As caring as she was, I know she will be missed by her family, her coworkers and her students. I miss her too.

My first couple of years at Texas, we had to register for classes through an automated system at a phone bank setup in the library. At the end of the phone call, no matter if you got the classes you wanted or not, the last thing you heard was a variation of Edward R. Murrow’s famous sign off. (I didn’t actually get that reference for the longest time. I’d never heard of Murrow.) It became a kind of joke among the student body. We would repeat it to each other at the most random times, trying to mimic the deep, dignified voice that we heard on the phone. We’d look at each other with a straight face and say…

“Goodbye, and good luck.”