It is March, nineteen seventy-something and soon to graduate high school, Rex is sitting in the guidance counselor’s office.
Mrs. Reddick, the guidance counselor assigned to me, looks me up and down as if she has never seen me before, as it should be. She had never seen me until this moment.
“How can I help you, uhm, Rex?” as she looks down at her appointment book noting who should be in her office at 9am that day.
“Well, Mrs. Reddick, I want to start my college search, I’ll be graduating this spring. And I wanted to know what I need to do.”
Mrs. Reddick shuffles through my permanent record, which is painfully thin and gives me the disapproving authoritarian look over her reading glasses. “Mr. Hunter, you have not been when we call in education an exemplary student. There are no extracurriculars, no academic awards. You are a C+ student at best. Where exactly do you want to go to college? Have you thought about a trade school?”
She rattles off this line of thought like a machine gun mowing down the enemy forces.
What Mrs. Reddick does not know is that I have decided on my college. It is the one my Mom graduated from and my sister attended before she eloped with my brother-in-law. A liberal arts college in Winter Park. A college with a one hundred year tradition of producing the likes of Mr. Rodgers, Anthony Perkins, Buddy Epson, and Eric Bolling among others.
I confidently reply, “I’ve decided to go to Rollins College.” Mrs. Reddick looks like a deer in headlights, blinks a couple of times and takes a quick drink of coffee she has on her desk.
“You mean, the Rollins College in Winter Park, Rollins College??” She asks. There is no hiding her disbelief.
“Yes, I reply. My Mom and sister went there, so I figured I would too.”
After she collects her thoughts she calmly states, “Mr. Hunter, I graduated from Rollins College. My husband is a professor at Rollins College. I can most certainly assure you, YOU ARE NOT ROLLINS COLLEGE MATERIAL.”
I found at an early age that when you smile you can say most anything. With a smile on my lips and one in my voice I reply, “Mrs. Reddick, I didn’t ask for your opinion. I asked how I get started with the application procedure.”
Mrs. Reddick blinked some more but didn’t say a word. She grabbed from the back of her desk an application for Rollins and one from the community college in the area. Shaking her head she says ” It is fifty dollars to apply to Rollins. You will be wasting your money. You are better off applying to the community college.”
She then dismisses me from her office. That was the first and last time I spoke to Mrs. Reddick.
How I DID get into Rollins and graduate is another story.
People are quick to tell you what you can and cannot do.
I was told my Mrs. Reddick I would not make it into Rollins. I was told by my Dad that I would not amount to anything on my own. I was told by my “friends” that I would not get the blonde girl, Kathie, to date me. We’ve been married thirty-six years.
What I learned and continue to remind myself is that you must believe in yourself. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. Take a chance on you!
Live, Love, Matter