I joined the military at the age of seventeen. I was scared and unsure. How do I pay for college? How independent do I want to be? A bunch of questions were always in my mind and I signed up thinking that I would travel, that I would have my college paid for, and all were selfish reasons. We were in peace time, I was told. It was a different time in 1999.
A month after my high school graduation in June of 2000, I was set to leave for South Carolina for my training and I would move onto Virginia after that. However, I got out due to medical reasons, and it was the hardest choice I made.
I applied to college right away, and that is when fortune truly smiled on me. I was accepted into the New Center program (now Corrick Center) at Minnesota State University Moorhead. I would start in the spring 2001. I moved to the big city of Fargo where I was hired at K-Mart, the place where I met my husband. On the first day of classes, I met one of my best friends and future roommate. I met two more of my best friends there, and we had a table where we sit to have lunch together. The professors would stop to talk to us and always had their doors open to us. They taught subjects that weren’t found on the larger campus and spoke to me in more ways than those on campus classes did. It was my second home where we had potlucks, the chance to earn scholarships, and were all encouraged to write and enter the annual writing contest. It was where I was first published from short stories to vignettes to poetry and where I gave my first reading.
The decision to leave the military was the hardest choice I made and it was the best choice. It helped form the life I wanted to lead. The Corrick Center was part of my growing. It was the place that gave me what I needed when I left home.
Today, it closed. Other students won’t have the same opportunity that I had to be entered into a four year university when your grades were high, but your ACT score was low. It is sad as I look at the new faces. I felt like a ghost as I walked through the halls today, watching and not participating, the focus of it all lost in memory. The memory of how the rooms used to be, the table my friends and I would eat at for lunch (and study), the missing couch where we took naps, the floating head picture, the faulty vending machines, the long halls to a creepy classroom, and our laughter that used to echo down the halls. It was all there, so real and heartwarming.
I don’t like the thought that other students won’t have the chance that I had, but I do know that it will always be with me. The touch of The Corrick Center won’t ever be too far out of reach for it will live on in the students that were taught there. There is no way that I can truly express the gratitude that I hold towards the faculty and what was taught within those brick walls. Your teachings and kindness will live on in your students.
To conclude, I thought it best to include the poem that I read some years ago. It was written for someone that I had helped me very much on campus and had passed away due to cancer. I think that it fits as I wrote it sitting against a tree on a beautiful spring day.
I do not see the sun anymore
only red light that
shines over the naked trees
making the branches look
like veins touching an
and it makes me truly see
Earth as larger
like seeing a parent
as more than just a parent
but as a human being
and it makes me think
that there is so much
more I could be
taking for granted.