On our way out of Dahlonega we took Hwy 60 through my husband’s childhood hometown of Gainesville, GA. We drove by his old house and through the neighborhood. So many stories!
We continued the drive through Atlanta and into Alabama. The same drive I took to get to and from Greenville while I was in vet school at Tuskegee. There were some new landmarks but still very much the same. A new anxiety came over me as we drove closer to Auburn. So many emotions ran through me, remembering the tumultuous four years that were Vet School. It had been 10 years since I had been in Tuskegee or Auburn.
For those of you that don’t know, Tuskegee University is located only 24 minutes south of Auburn University. Also, both of these schools have Colleges of Veterinary Medicine. Tuskegee University is a private institution and is the only HBCU to have a College of Veterinary Medicine. TUCVM graduates over 50 percent of the nations African-American veterinarians and has the most racially and ethnically diverse students among other veterinary colleges in the U.S.
Thursday we got into town late in the afternoon and met up with family. My husband, MIL and daughter had dinner at Acre and really enjoyed it. I met up with classmates and TUCVM’s Dean to discuss our class’ donation. It was so great to finally see everyone! The anxiety I felt was just that of anticipation of seeing old friends and worry that the time and distance between us would have changed us. It did and it didn’t. Everyone has changed and grown as individuals, but the bond we shared was still there.
My graduating class had 54 people and 22 of us were able to make it for our 10 year reunion. Class of 2009 was the talk of the Symposium since we showed up with numbers that are not that common. Our class had a unique bond right away in the first days of school. Then tragedy struck only a month after starting school when we lost our classmate. Jonathan Boswell was a person that lit up a room and he was genuine to the core. When we lost him, our class came together to help each other grieve. He has stayed with us and continues to keep us close.
Friday, I left my little family, and they toured Auburn and saw my husband’s old stomping grounds. I checked in with registration and went to the symposium. Catching up with friends, seeing our old professors and meeting new students was inspiring. Four of us went to Fuji Sushi for lunch. We spent a lot of time and money here when we were in school. The sushi is still amazing! We got back to Auburn/opleika marriott and caught the afternoon lectures then got ready for the banquet. The symposium banquet honors reunion classes.
After the presentation of alumni awards, each reunion class (every 5 & 10 yrs) presented their classes’ donation to the TUCVM. Our class was able to donate over $22k towards the 2 year $500k initiative. Since Tuskegee University is a private institution it is up to alumni and the veterinary college to help support the continued growth of the curriculum and facilities (through private donations, grants and monies from the University). I was so moved and proud to hear each class’ stories and learn of their achievements in veterinary medicine. With each donation made they were able get just shy of the $500k. We all got together afterward and caught up over drinks and for a little while it felt like we were 10 years younger.
Saturday, we slept in! Very thankful for our babysitters (my MIL and one of her closest friends). I spent the day with my best friend and neighbor from vet school, visiting our old homes (in the Orchard Way Mobile Home Park), visiting the vet school, the Tuskegee book store, and a finally enjoying an alumni BBQ at the school. We went back to the hotel, rested, watched some March Madness and then went out to dinner. Our last night out we chose The Hound for dinner, a farm to table like atmosphere, that now occupies the space we knew as the Auburn Ale House. The food and craft beer selection was awesome, I highly recommend!
The next two days we made our way back to the beach and we were glad to be back. It was a long trip that took us across three states and very different terrains with many different experiences along the way. This vacation was a send off for my mom’s future travels along the AT and a step back in time for me and my husband. We were definitely taken away from our daily lives and made to face emotions and enjoy new experiences on this trip! Now back to the grind.