Little 500, “Go Big Red,” IU Dance Marathon, kicking back on Kirkwood … I was born and raised in Florida, so all of these things were completely foreign to me until the first of my three kids was admitted to Indiana University.
As a parent registering my oldest son, Grant, for college in 2003, my emotions were running high — the first chick was leaving the nest, and I was trying not to cry. Visiting for Parents’ Weekend and IU Homecoming, along with tailgating at football games, added some comfort while my husband, Jeff, and I were still adjusting.
Before I knew it, my second child, Joshua, decided that he was also going to IU. My feelings were now flooding all over the place — thank God I decided to buy stock in Kleenex after Grant left. After Joshua became an IU student, I accepted an offer to join a board within the Parents Association. I cleverly thought this would enable me to be in B-town for “official” business while becoming engaged with life at IU. At the very least, I thought, I could take my kids to dinner — or basically anything they wanted to do — so I would be able to spend as much time as possible with them. (It probably helped that I was paying for dinner.)
Finally, my mini-me daughter, Rachel, was off to IU in 2012, and her mama (a.k.a. me) completely freaked out! I admit it, I missed my kids being home, but I knew they were in a place where they could grow as individuals, experience life in a new way while they found their own paths, meet people from different backgrounds, and achieve everything they needed to have the careers they wanted.
Being an involved parent has enabled me to meet the dean of students, many wonderful IU staff members, and other parents who are going through the same things and have the same questions. I went to all of the Parents’ Weekends and tried to enjoy the fact that my little chicks were having a great time and in a great place.
I’m now the parent of two IU alums: After he graduated from IU in 2007 with a degree in sports marketing and management, and getting a Certificate in Financial Planning from Dusquene University, Grant took a position with Wells-Fargo as a complex manager. Joshua, who graduated from IU in 2014 (informatics major, minor in business and Spanish), is living in Indianapolis working for an IT company, Sondi Solutions, as a field technician. Rachel is studying community health and will graduate in May 2016.
At IU, my kids learned, had fun, and have picked careers that are making them happy. After all, college really is all about finding happiness, making memories and expanding your experience and knowledge base. What more could a parent ask for?