By Carla Bender
I love this time of year; the leaves are changing and bursting forth in color in their metamorphic phase of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. The hints of green sprinkled throughout contrast the amber hues. The anticipation of change amongst the regular crisp, cool mornings brings its own form of exhilaration in starting a new day. Wilson College’s campus is a perfect setting for picturesque, photogenic memories this time of year. The milestone of the 100th anniversary of The Wilson Billboard gives me thoughts of my own milestone as a student in what I consider the autumn phase of living and the writing classes in which I’ve engaged.
College hadn’t even entered my thoughts after high school in 1986. It seemed an impossibility without any parental financial support, and I expected to enter the workforce immediately, which I did, working for the federal government. A good marriage and four children filled my summer years with great delight and opportunity to look at life through the eyes of another. Those years gave me glimpses of Wilson as my engagement photos were taken on the beautiful school grounds and in Laird Hall which housed my wedding reception. I came to campus for regular classes in word processing training, and later, and my children brought me back with a gymnastic program and summers of SEEDS, which were fantastic!
I hadn’t thought about trying my hand at writing until my pastor brought it up. He had no idea that I have always enjoyed writing but his idea was sparked by some writings about my mother that I shared with him. While Mom would have loved having scholarly talents, the few years she was enrolled in a college were very difficult for her. Still, she was a feminist and believed knew that women are capable beings, and this enabled her to be successful in other ways: raising four children by herself, opening a daycare, ironing for income, joining a small business that sold home decorating products and being a housekeeper. When I consider Wilson’s opportunities for single parents, my heart is warmed in remembrance of her.
I am reminded of how far we have come today in terms of the roles of women. Mom’s era regularly educated women only in the fields of teaching and nursing. Today, it is commonplace to hear stories of women who have broken through the glass ceiling and their climb to get there. I am delighted to have two daughters who are educated in fields they love. Mom would be so proud of her graduates with degrees including psychology, economics and Spanish. I give her credit for inspiring them to make their own ways!
To be on campus with a much younger generation brings me joy. I hope the students I interact with embrace their capabilities and pursue their dreams! The mom in me finds myself thinking about what my classmates may be up to and I often whisper a quick prayer for them. In the meantime, as I continue in my creative writing class, I am left to think to myself, “What will I sign up for next?”