Last weekend I had the honor of viewing the graduation ceremony of a good friend at Old Dominion University. Being part of ODU’s alumni, I knew this would bring back nostalgic memories of my own graduation, oh so many (13!?!! That has to be wrong!) years ago. I knew the campus was very different from the one I had attended. And I was excited to finally see the inside of the Ted Constant Convocation Center.
As I was walking down one of the new streets in the University Village with five of my former sorority sisters, we commented on how amazing our college lives would have been if we had lived in one of the beautiful new apartments surrounding us, steps away from restaurants and shops.
The conversation then turned to reminiscing what our various graduations had been like. In my case, the event was supposed to be held at Foreman Field (back then, a reminder of the football team we did not have; today totally renovated and packed with fans cheering the newly minted Monarchs Football Team), but because of a stormy forecast, was moved that morning to Scope.
Scope is an older venue in Downtown Norfolk that is used for events like circuses and traveling Broadway shows. And it was hot. I don’t know if air conditioning exists in Scope, but when you’ve got the floor packed shoulder-to-shoulder with gowned graduates, and the seats packed shoulder-to-shoulder with beaming parents, grandparents, siblings and weird Uncle Jerry, you can be sure their cooling system was no contest to the body heat rising off of such a magnanimous crowd.
But we made it through. I proudly walked across that stage and accepted my rolled up letter from the ODU Alumni Association (soliciting donations, of course), an ODU keychain, and a handshake from someone that I’m sure was a Very Important Person. Leaving Scope that day with my still-beaming family, I promptly tossed the Alumni letter, but held onto what I lovingly called “My $15,000 Keychain.”
Walking into “The Ted,” the air was energetic with the same beaming families. The clothes were different, sure, but the excitement was all the same. More importantly, though, there was air conditioning. And despite the decade that had passed since The Ted was built, it still looked brand new. After settling into some seats, I looked straight up to see the same type of scoreboard you would see at an NBA basketball game. The kind that looks like a big cube hanging above the center of the floor, complete with screens on all four sides to show video.
“This place is incredible!” I said to myself.
Eventually the students paraded in and slowly filed into the rows of chairs filling the space.
“Oh, yeah,” Stacy said to us as she saw a group of much younger sorority girls pass, “our sorority has stoles that they can wear over their robes during the ceremony now!”
Well that was the last straw! I couldn’t take it anymore! I wanted to go to school here! Where was this university when I was applying to schools oh-so-many-moons ago???
While I am enormously proud of what Old Dominion has become in the years since receiving my keychain, I can’t help but feel a bit slighted for missing out on the experiences these youngsters take for granted. Hanging out at the cool new library. Going to concerts at The Ted. Purchasing my wares (and returning my books for that all-important end-of-the-semester refund/drinking money) at the spacious and totally awesome bookstore. And proudly wearing my ODU sweatshirt to football games – a game where ODU is one of the teams playing!
Is it really too late, I had to wonder? Could I somehow sneak my 2-year-old and 5-year-old daughters into one of those new-fangled University Village apartments? Could I, maybe, have just a little bit of a do-over?
My husband, after quite a good and hearty chuckle, gave me an emphatic “no” on the proposition. Then gently reminded me that there were many people who came before me in ODU’s long and storied history, and that many of those people felt the exact same way back when I had been enrolled there.
Still, I think I’ll take the girls and head down to the bookstore on one of these sunny spring days. I need to replace a certain “$15,000 Keychain” that has been misplaced during these last 13 (I mean, seriously, that can NOT be right!) years. Oh, and a couple of child sized sweatshirts, too.
Jennifer Tackett-Hilton is a Virginia Beach transplant (originally from Iowa) and Old Dominion University graduate who swore she'd never date a Navy man.... but never said she wouldn't marry one! Jennifer and her Prince Charming have two adorable (and precocious!) princesses, ages 2 and 5, and one furry pooch, Eddie.
In the (precious little) spare time she has, she enjoys crafting, shopping for new craft supplies, and writing on her blogs, EverAfterLand.com and JenEverAfter.com. You can find her on Facebook at http://facebook.com/everafterland and follow her on http://twitter.com/jeneverafter and http://pinterest.com/jeneverafter.