This session is going to be all in photos and will cover a few years. It’s near and dear to my heart, it’s my own daughter… Jennifer (2012 Legend High School Senior.
Let’s go back to 2012. High school senior. Visiting colleges. There were 2 in state colleges and one was a heavy contender. We liked that she would be about 2 hours from home and the program she was looking at fit her, the school fit her but she was keeping her options opened. There was a small push for her to attend my alumni school, the University of New Mexico but thanks to the Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) Program (Senior Parents – LOOK THIS UP) a school in South Dakota was starting to get her attention.
Now – I’m not a person to pick a school by their marketing program. It’s what they have to offer as an education, life-style and cost that makes the cut, but marketing as a graphic designer does play in a bit and for her number 1 school pick in Colorado not contacting her at all, in any way shape or form and the school in South Dakota is sending post cards every other week (all over our fridge), emails once a week and a phone call right before the holidays wishing her a Merry Christmas… the heat was on.
So we took a visit to this school in South Dakota, made a small family vacation out of it, our daughter would realize it was too far, she wouldn’t be able to come home often, it would be much colder and it just wouldn’t work out…this trip was to my husband and me… a get away. We found out a basketball game was going to be happening the day before out college tour, HUGE RIVAL team. The enemy was in their zone, how we got tickets for this sold out event I don’t know but we did and we went. You could feel the excitement as we walked into the DakotaDome.
For most of us in the family, it’s not about the sport but about the band…
The game was intense. It was close all the way to the end and just as we thought the University of South Dakota (USD) would lose they would come out on top again. If I recall, it went into over-time and in the end it was 71 Coyotes (USD) – 68 Rabbits (South Dakota State University).
The next day on one of South Dakota’s more colder days – wrapped up in the warmest gear possible and more gear purchased in the gift shop she took a tour of the school, visited the art department for photography, turned in her portfolio which they were impressed with for a potential scholarship, she had decided this was the one. As we left town, we stopped by one of the school signs and snapped a picture of our soon to be “Coyote” at her school –
A key piece to her picking this school over the one in Colorado was the band. Specifically – they had a colorguard. Early in the school decision process one of the speakers at the schools we visited suggested:
“…that if your child is in a program in high school it is strongly suggested that they continue it in college so they don’t ‘get lost’ keeping them busy away from home that first year with something they know and feel good in will help keep them grounded.”
I know that doesn’t happen to every child that goes off to college if they don’t continue with something they did in school, some are so burnt out by it, but it did hit a note with our Jennifer and so that became a need for her that she could still participate in band with the colorguard.
Over the next 4 years, we drove out to South Dakota for at least one game to see her perform with the band, each year she took on a bigger role that by her Junior and Senior year she was the Captain of the Colorguard.
Of course – she was taking art classes, enrolled in photography classes and taking her basic classes. Art shows with completed works, art work coming home over the holidays and buying her paper to develop her film photography was the norm over 4 years. She had moved out of the dorm life into an apartment her Junior year with some girls and by her Senior year with a long distance relationship with a local Colorado boy, he moved to South Dakota to be with her and they got an apartment together.
When it got close to graduation this year I asked her if she wanted the traditional graduation cards or did she want me to create her a graduation card, she asked for a custom card which meant I needed to head out to South Dakota before graduation, get some photos and design a card. It was a good enough excuse to go out and visit her! Seeing Jennifer at her last required senior show displaying her work was a perk for her and a proud mom moment.
With just 2 hours left on a Sunday morning before Dad and I headed back to Colorado, in her cap and gown we stopped at a few favorite spots that meant a lot to her…
The DakotaDome where she spent most of the fall seasons performing during half time with the “The Sound of USD” band. Thanks to boyfriend Andrew he saw that the door was open to the dome and we were able to get inside and grab a few snaps on the end zone…
A favorite place and majestic beauty is “Old Main” the heart of the campus and I knew where I wanted Jennifer to be when we got this photo and it would be my favorite (and hers)…
Then I couldn’t be a little nostalgic without going back to the first sign, where the first photo began… and get a photo of her in her cap gown –
Now – if you have gotten this far and still following the story… this is where I stop being the loving mom and I tell you as your photographer do not do this…
Don’t wait to the last minute to send out graduation cards!
Here is the time line – we arrived back in Colorado on Sunday (looooooong 10 hour drive), I quickly on Monday touch up the best images and send a link to Jennifer to view (she is my client after all), I think before I left work that morning she had picked her favorites, by Monday night I had a card designed and sent to her to approve and by Tuesday it was ordered and Wednesday she had 50 cards to send out and I had 50 cards to send out… and then she graduated within a week!
So what is she doing now? She has a degree in Fine Arts with focus on Photography (focus… ha ha – get it?) Right now, an opportunity to work for the University of South Dakota Band came up – where she is their Colorguard Instructor and will do some photo work for the band. She also got a job being the Colorguard instructor for a local high school band not far from where she lives.
We couldn’t be more prouder of her – it was a hard 4 years, with a lot of home sickness and a lot of hard classes but she got through it. Lots of break down calls, lots of up beat calls. Traveling with the band to places she had never been to and having best friends in the dorms that created road trips for weekend get-a ways and Spring Break adventures.
College isn’t all about the education in the books but the education of making the right decisions on a daily basis. Learning to budget a college life style, learning to make new friends and when to let go of them. Learning to stand up for your rights but doing so as an adult and going the high ground. College life can make you and break you, it’s all how you handle it and if you have those who love you and support you, they will talk you off that ledge because you will go there numerous times wondering if you can get through that next exam, paper or class or that room-mate. Its an experience you’ll never forget.