Bringing My Daughter to College
My daughter is a Freshman at Drexel University
Yesterday I brought my daughter Michaela to Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to start her college experience. Philadelphia is 4 1/2 hours from our home in Connecticut. I was proud of myself for not crying when I left her, but I did notice I had a hard time stopping the hugs! I am so proud of my daughter who has grown from a tiny baby of 6 pounds 10 oz. 18 years ago, into the beautiful, talented and vivacious young woman she is today.
On September 20th, 1994, I gave birth to twin baby girls. I had always wanted twins, and they do run in my family, but I never believed I would be blessed enough to have them. When the ultrasound technician told us we were having twins, tears poured down my face because I realized what a blessing I had been given. From the start of the first few kicks in utero, I realized that this child, "Baby A" as they called her, was going to be a challenge. She was so active and kicked so much I was concerned about the challenges she would present after she made her entrance into the world. This was a big contrast from her sister, who was very quiet and rarely kicked. I found myself praying that God would bless my relationship with her, and give me the strength to have a close bond with her and to never give up on her in spite of the challenges she presented. Once she was born, true to form, she gave us a run for the money. She cried often, wanted to nurse often ( yes I did nurse my twins!) and was miserable and cranky unless I was around to hold her or nurse her. As she grew into the toddler stage, she began to talk...all the time. She asked questions or made comments about everything around her. It was tiring, but I tried to have patience and answer her questions and hold conversations with her. And she developed a stage where she did not like babies, including any children who were younger than her, and would physically push them out of her way! I remembered my prayers and asked for strength more than once! But as she grew and entered school, things began to change. She was extremely curious about the world around her and loved school. She developed a habit of loving to read and to watch TV. At first, I was concerned about the TV habit. I was especially concerned when she began to be able to recite television advertisements word for word in elementary school! When I suggested she not watch television as much, she reminded me that her grades were excellent and stated that watching TV helped her relax. At times she would spout off facts that were pretty impressive and when I asked where she had learned that, she told me from a TV show. So, I backed off on my request.
As she entered middle school, she found she had a talent for and love of cross country running. She found running helped center her mind, and I supported her in this endeavor. By eighth grade though, she began complaining that she ached a lot. Especially after running. Her pediatrician thought it was a relapse of the Lyme Disease she had had a few years earlier and treated her for that illness with antibiotics. At 15, and by that time, a high school sophomore, she was so sore one November day, that the pediatrician looked at her swollen knees, and diagnosed her with arthritis. One trip to the Children's Hospital later, the diagnosis was confirmed: Michaela had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was heartbroken. It did not run in our family, but here was my beautiful young daughter, afflicted with a terribly painful disease that could cripple her in later years. But Michaela was much less bothered by it than I was. In spite of sore joints which included her knees, hips, and jaw, she continued to run on not only the cross country team but the indoor and outdoor track teams as well. She did get hurt, and would sometimes have to end her seasons early and be in a boot, use crutches or have to go for physical therapy. She never gave up and competed in running sports through out high school. And along with her determination to run, was her determination to excel academically. She took the hardest classes she could, always challenging herself with the goal of getting into a good college. She graduated 10th in her class of 570, with an ending cumulative grade point average of 4.17.
I had been encouraging her to major in a subject in college that she enjoyed and was passionate about. Throughout her first three years of high school, she didn't have any clue what she wanted to major in and steadfastly refused to allow me to put pressure on her to decide until she knew what it was in her heart. Being the director of the Career Center at her high school, it was hard for me to back off and let her do this at her pace, but I did my best to respect her wishes. In her senior year of high school, she declared that she knew what she wanted to major in at college: Television and Screenwriting. And of course, it made perfect sense for her to choose these subjects as the basis of her college studies. This young girl who had learned so much and enjoyed the medium of television throughout her formative years will go on to hopefully make her mark on the television industry and help others learn as she did.
Over the last two years, Michaela and I visited many colleges, some close, some rather far from home. Her wish list for a college included being in a city, at least two hours from home, having a good television program, and being a large school. We had some wonderful bonding experiences on car trips to Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire. When all was said and done, Drexel University won out. Not only did they give her a fantastic renewable scholarship, but they have both a television and screenwriting major, and a co-op program which will give her six months of paid experience in the field of television in her junior year. And, of course, it's in a large city.
I have had my concerns over the past few months about her going off to college. Like any parent, there is concern about this new chapter in their child's life. But as I have watched her grow, I have noticed that she has an insatiable desire to be the best she can be at anything she attempts. I have watched her bond with her friends, and be a caring, thoughtful, intelligent young woman of integrity. I have done my best to support her, given her roots, and helped her grow the wings she needs to fly off into adulthood. And I know now that the signs of concern I observed, even when she was a baby, was just her trait of knowing how to get her needs met to become the person she was destined to be. My girl has guts and determination to conquer anything in her path, and I know she will be a successful college student. I also know that should she need extra support, Philadelphia is just a 4 1/2 hour train ride away!