As Eliza said in a recent speech...."who thought going to college would be this hard?" That pretty much sums up Eliza's first months of 2012. She remains dogged in her determination to re-join her peers in the post secondary world of learning, but it hasn't come without its disappointments. Eliza applied and set her hopes on attending either Edgewood College in Madison, WI or College of Charleston, in South Carolina. Both of these colleges we found highly commendable and dedicated to having their students fully integrated - where all students learn from and with each other.
In February, we flew to Madison for a 2nd visit to Edgewood and an interview - a first for Eliza. I was extremely proud of her ability to describe and answer questions put to her about what she wants from college, how she feels about being so far from home, etc.
Following our Wisconsin trip we headed to Mission College in Santa Clara, California where Eliza was invited to come as a paid speaker and share her story. We both were very pleased to speak to over 100 students and faculty made possible through the college's diversity committee.
In March, Eliza and I started making plans to visit a college closer to home - Highline Community College in Washington, figuring we needed to keep as many options open as possible. And none too soon, for despite Eliza's best effort completing applications and interview, we were not as prepared as I would have liked to defray her disappointment when she received letters from College of Charleston and Edgewood within 2 weeks letting her know how much they commended her desire and wished her luck in her pursuit but informed her that she had not been chosen for their limited fall cohort - both having a whole raft of applicants in their own home states and beyond to fill the 6-10 slots that were open. Well, welcome to the world of many typical college-hopeful students, only in this case there is no "home state" fall back college to choose from be it private, public, 2 or 4 year.
So last week, we set off for points North to have our visit with Highline College and had a fabulous day with many of the caring, kind and excited staff who enthusiastically showed us around. We visited classes, met students, talked with faculty and came away feeling like we have finally found a team that WANTS Eliza and a place that welcomes and celebrates the learning and achievements of all students - completely undaunted by obstacles, choosing instead to learn and grow right along with their students. It was a tremendous relief to know that we have found a school where Eliza will be encouraged and welcome to pursue her dream and we are as eager as ever to join the team of educators willing to see and make those possibilities a reality.