Back to the past

It was the summer of 2003.  After completing the 2-yr Interpreter Training Program at Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC), I knew my ASL skill was not what it should be.  There was a 4-yr ASL Studies program offered at Gardner-Webb University (GWU), with an interpreting minor, and a 4-yr Deaf Education program at Lenoir-Rhyne College.  Both were about the same distance from my home—in opposite directions—about 140 miles round trip.  

Rachel had graduated from high school in May of that year, but Joseph was a sophomore in high school and very involved with after school activities. I didn’t want to miss any of them.  I really struggled to decide whether or not to continue my education, especially so far from our home.   But God…  (Don’t you love…But God?  That phrase is all through the scriptures.)  But God…confirmed that I must three times within two days during that summer. My preference was the program at GWU (remember ASL Interpreter was the goal), but I had to pass an ASL skills test before I could proceed.  I really doubted I could pass the test, knowing my limitations.  I registered for the test and was amazed that I did pass it and felt that was the final confirmation from God for me to be there at GWU.

Rachel had been seeking God’s plan for her college decision and He lead her to Gardner-Webb, as well.  I certainly did not want my decision to attend GWU to negatively impact her college experience, so I asked her if she would be opposed to my attending GWU at the same time she was there.   She instantly said “no” reasoning it was a big campus and we would probably never see each other.  That first semester she asked me to take her to lunch at least once a week.  I was thrilled to be able to see her that often.  The weekly lunch was something we enjoyed throughout our college years together.  We never had classes together, but several of Rachel’s close friends and I had classes together.  Rachel confided that felt a little strange, sometimes.  

So I embarked on more education on a real college campus, at the age of 44—70 miles from my home—with the vast majority of the students being college-age appropriate.  This was much different from the community college campus where older students were much more common.  The students at GWU accepted me without any questions and I became “Momma Becky” to many of them.  I quickly, realized that my time at GWU was not only about gaining increased ASL Skill and knowledge of the Deaf Community, but it was also about impacting the lives of the students that sat in the classroom with me. Needless to say, they had a great impact on me, as well.

I knew the classes at GWU would be more academically challenging than the classes at the community college level, so I registered for only one class my first semester, ASL III.  The class met MWF.  My instructor was Keith Cagle.  Keith is Deaf-of-Deaf (that means he was born Deaf to Deaf parents) and has recently received his doctorate in Educational Linguistics.  Keith was strict, but it was obvious he loved teaching.  Teaching is Keith’s gift!  What joy it was to be in his class with a true teacher.  There is no doubt God wanted me to be under Keith’s ASL instruction.  I have no doubt my desire to continue to improve my skill and continue learning about the Deaf was influenced greatly by Keith Cagle.  I missed an “A” in that class by only 2 points.  Keith’s grading scale was stringent and an “A” was 93 – 100.

I never took “a full load” of classes at GWU, because we could not afford the tuition.  Remember, Rachel was also a full-time, living-on-campus student and Joseph was attending Asheville Christian Academy.  Our support of Christian education through the years seems to be unending, as we are still paying on Rachel’s college experiences.  What a great investment!  

 I did take advantage of GWU’s willingness to accept a limited number of classes from other approved educational institutions, so during my first three years at GWU I took classes on 4 different campuses, 1) GWU – Boiling Springs, NC;  2 & 3) AB-Tech – Asheville and Transylvania campuses;  and 4) Online classes – my home.  In addition, during my 2-yr. community college program, I attended classes at Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC), distance learning classes (for BRCC) at AB-Tech, on the UNCA (University of North Carolina Asheville) campus and on-line classes in my home.  My college career—which spanned more than 8 years (3 at BRCC and 5+ at GWU), including all summers but one—was split between 5 different educational institutions, plus my own home for on-lines.  Whew!  What was I thinking?  God knew all along how those years would prepare me for the future.  Needless to say, I became very familiar with all the different campuses and with my new bff (best friend forever), my computer, something that would prove to be invaluable to me, in my research in the future!

One of my favorite “But God…” verses.

“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died:  ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.   But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”  Genesis 50:15-21

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