Monday, February 8, 2010

Can't top that!

I had the most FANTASTIC weekend!

Accepting four awards at the Oklahoma Press Association Mid-Winter Convention was awesome, but it wasn’t even the best part of the weekend.

I love the Mid-Winter Convention because of the people who attend it. My mentors all gather in the same rooms, and year after year, I meet a few more of them.

This year, I was able to get to know Barb and Bill Walter, publishers of the Hennessey Clipper and longtime newspaper greats, a little better. I also got better acquainted with Faith Wiley and Carolyn Estes from the Oologah Lake Leader. Barb, Faith, Carolyn and I closed down the event center Thursday night. We stayed up well past 1 a.m. cussing and discussing numerous issues and left with the pact of “what happens at the OPA convention stays at the OPA convention.”

That was a great evening. If you would have told me 13 years ago, when I attended my first OPA convention, that I would be burning the midnight oil with Barb Walter and Faith Wiley – two women who have written countless entries of newspaper history, I would have said you were on crack.

Thursday was just a day I’m not sure can be topped anytime soon.

It started at 4 a.m. with a trip to the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond with Joseph and his friends, Shane and Duane.

We signed up for Premier Day at UCO, and I tagged along to see where my boys will be spending the next four years.

Duane is interested in the journalism program, so I asked Dr. Terry Clark, a professor and former chair of the journalism department, if we could stop by and say hello while on campus. He was leaving early that day for the OPA convention, but he said we might be able to catch him before lunch.

I took Duane to the Communications Building to see if we could find Dr. Clark. As we entered the secretary’s office to ask for directions, I noticed another office with a gold name plate by the door. It read “Dr. David Nelson.”

Funny, I had a professor at Northwestern by the same name.

“Surely, this is not MY David Nelson?” I thought to myself.

I walked to the door; it was locked. The office was dark. I peered through the office window, hoping to see a photograph or some sign that this might be my former professor. Nothing.

I asked the secretary if this particular David Nelson may have been an instructor at NWOSU.

She said she didn’t know for sure.

“I’ll pull up his bio, and you can see his picture,” she said.

“Great!” I would never forget that face.

She pulled up a photo of a man with semi-long sandy blonde hair sporting some pretty hip glasses. He looked like a California surfer. See for yourself: UCO Faculty and Staff.

The guy I remembered had short brown hair, no glasses and looked nothing like the guy on the computer screen.

“Oh, no, that’s definitely not him,” I said.

I looked again.

“Well, I guess it could be. I haven’t seen him in 10 years.”

I got about an inch away from the screen, trying to recognize any resemblance of my former teacher. Nothing.

“Does his bio say anything about him teaching at Northwestern?” I asked.

She read through it silently.

“I don’t see anything about Northwestern,” the secretary said.

Then a light bulb went off.

“How about Cameron? Does it say anything about Cameron University on there?” I asked.

“Yes!” she said. “It says here he graduated from Cameron.”

“That’s got to be him,” I said, “because nobody attended Cameron.”

I told her to tell him Korina said hello.

“Just tell him Korina from Northwestern,” I said. “He’ll know who that is.”

I remembered before we walked out that I had an old business card in my wallet, so I wrote my former name (Korina Atchley) on the back of the card with the words “e-mail me!” and left it with the secretary.

About 30 minutes later, I checked my e-mail from my phone, and had this e-mail: “Kooooooriiiinnnnnaaaa! Yes, it is me – the hair is longer and I’m older … ;-) How are you? The secretary asked me if I knew a Korina, and I immediately said—‘ATCHLEY!’”

We went back to the Communications Building that afternoon, after Premier Day had concluded, and Dr. Nelson took all four of us on a smashing tour of the entire department. The boys and I got to see the campus television station, radio station and newspaper – the works.

We walked out of there about an hour and a half later, and I’m telling you I think the boys’ hair was on fire! By the time we left, Shane was considering changing his interest from coaching to broadcast journalism, and Duane was just in kind of a happy stupor (as was I). Even Joseph was impressed, and journalism NEVER impresses Joseph. He has grown up with it and doesn’t take too kindly to anything journalism-related.

Shane and Duane were calling their grandparents telling them of the awesome tour, and I even got some cool points for dragging them to the building in the first place.

“Korina knew this dude!” I heard Shane telling his grandpa. “He took us through everything! It was sooooooooo cool!”

I felt elated, to say the least. Plus, I got to see my former professor again. He told me about some adjunct teaching opportunities at UCO, so I am planning to apply. We’ll see where that goes.

I absolutely fell in love with the UCO campus. Even though it was rainy and freezing, the campus still felt warm and welcoming. I can only imagine how gorgeous it is in the spring.

The boys were sold. They definitely plan on being Bronchos next year. (Yes, that’s how they spell Broncho at UCO.)

I am excited for them. I remember what it was like to pick out a college – scary, exciting and many other emotions all rolled into one.

That’s kind of how I feel about grad school. UCO didn’t have any graduate programs for me, but during the OPA convention, I met a professor and the dean of the Gaylord College of Journalism at OU (thanks again, Lisa!), and I got some information about OSU’s journalism and ag communications departments (thanks, Dr. Clark!). We missed Dr. Clark at UCO, but I met up with him in Midwest City at the convention.

I will keep looking and hopefully make a decision soon. I know deadlines are quickly approaching, and if I don’t make up my mind, it might be another year before I start school! I guess that wouldn’t be too bad. I’m rather enjoying my new life.

I’m still dealing with my “lost identity” crisis, but each day I learn a little more about myself, what I’m supposed to be doing and what God wants me to do for Him. Won’t it be awesome to look back at these days and remember how it all started?

Today’s readings:

Matthew 13:24-43
Acts 19:1-22
Psalm 31
Exodus 21-23

Psalm 31:24
Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD.

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