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To be quite honest, this photo is very unflattering to me, and it might have you wondering how a doorway can explain what Kean is really like. Well, let me tell you.

For about a year and a half I went to the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT. I was a music major, and before I left, I switched my major to English. I had my mind set to go to Ramapo College in Mahwah, NJ, but they wanted to hold me back for ridiculous reasons and was only going to accept 23 of my 50 credits at the time. So, I lost my $200 housing deposit and drove all the way there with my mother and sister to withdraw from all of my classes and cancel any pending paperwork. After that, and in the same day, I researched English programs. Kean was one of the first schools (proximity wise) that popped up, and I was immediately broughtback to the day I blatantly said to my guidance counselor that I wasn’t planning on adding Kean to my potential college list during my junior year of high school.

If I am going to be transparent with you… I did not choose Kean. I fell flat out on my my face into what is Kean University because I would have been out of school for a semester and/or a year trying to get my life together. I was for sure that other schools would tell me that there is nothing that could be done. This picture you see below housed the office of the now retired Dr. Daniel O’Day. This man single handedly changed my entire life in one afternoon…. It was past the deadline for entry into the Spring semester as my mother and I waited outside of this office for about an hour (or more); Dr. O’Day was dealing with other students first and had asked us to stay. He finally opened the door to a desolate hallway, standing just about my height (5’2″) in his taupe colored suit with his glasses and grey hair. After talking in his office about my goals and what I wanted to major in, he walked me all around this campus until he could find the individuals he was looking for. We finally reached a classroom where it seemed prospective students were registering for their classes for the first time. Rosa Cameli approached us, and I stood behind Dr. O’Day as he explained my situation. She handed my crumpled unofficial transcript to Mr. Worlds and he promptly turned and said “let her in”.
I felt lost and helpless when I walked into that building that day because I didn’t know what state I was going to come out of it in. When I tell you I owe everything to Dr. O’Day I truly mean it. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have had the chance for my professor (who is now my boss) to tell me that she thinks I would make a great writing consultant. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have had the chance for that same professor and boss to rehire me as a graduate assistant making my entire master’s degree free. If it wasn’t for him, I have no idea what my life would be like, and where I would be in this moment as I type this. In the spirit of transparency there is a lot at this school that I would like to forget as many students feel about their respective colleges and universities just because such is life, but this university literally is my saving grace. When I reflect on the people that I have come to know, the lessons that I now have ingrained in my mind, and the communities that have been built, I cannot help but to cry and think… if it wasn’t for him. I owe my entire educational foundation to a select few here at Kean who have absolutely turned my life around; those individuals have contributed to my life in monumental ways and have had a hand in helping me grow into the young woman that I am today.

So when I am asked what Kean is for me… what it is really like, I have to say that it is home and it sticks to me indubitably and forever.

Peace,
Richonda

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3 thoughts on “Spilling My Heart: Storied Campus Entry

  1. Wow! Powerful. I love your story and your journey. What a testimony. And God puts you exactly where you’re supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. I didn’t really want to go to Kean either. In fact, when I applied to Kean in high school it was my last choice. I think I even sent in my application incomplete and my it may have been stained. (I graduated from high school way back when you had to fill out a paper applications.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so moved reading your experience, Richonda. I saw so many spots (and I am sure there are many more) when if not for such interventions, accidents, serendipity, you would not be here. And as a lesson for all, to be reminded what a few caring people can do for others, and inspire us to be Dr O’Day’s for others.

    Last year I did a talk where I not only noted the Dr O’Day’s in my school experience, where I could not only vividly remember teachers, where I sat in the room, but also the periods in school where the memory is more blank (middle school and first year of college). I’m as much curious about what the memorable ones teach us as the ones we have blanks on.

    That is one powerful door. We are glad you came through it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s amazing how some people do something that can change the trajectory of our lives.
    “Let her in” — and there you are.
    It’s a lesson to remember when thinking of others, too – how sometimes our actions can impact the lifetime of another (hopefully, for the positive). And this is what teachers have the potential to do — recognize something in someone, point them in the direction, and hold that door open.
    Sincerely,
    Kevin, out in the open

    Liked by 1 person

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