A Homeschooler in the Harbor

Little unknown or unmentioned fact about me: I used to be homeschooled.

From 3rd through 8th grade I learned from my parents via the Calvert curriculum, took classes with other homechoolers in a co-op, joined homeschool groups for knitting, choir, and even went to museum events specifically for homeschoolers. Oh yeah, and there was even a homeschool prom.

One of my favorite memories of homeschooling was getting to travel with my parents and learn along the way. Whenever my dad had business trips my mom and I would piggy-back along, and I’d become immersed in the city’s history and culture. During the day my mom and I would go to museums (history and art lessons), walk through parks (nature lesson), and visit the churches (architecture and culture lessons). In the evening we’d meet back up with my dad and go to dinner and try new cuisines and local fare.

In a way, this exploration and curiosity about new places has never left me, although at the moment I’m strapped for cash and time to continue these adventures to new places. Which is why when I do get the chance to see something new, even in a city I’ve gone to school in for 3 years, I get so excited and happy.

Just like this past weekend!

My parents came down for the Dean’s List Luncheon and we spent some time at the Inner Harbor, soaking up the sun and history of the USS Constellation.

Dragon boats galore at the Inner Harbor

The majestic sloop, USS Constellation

It was just like old times: learning the history of the ship, going aboard and watching a gun demonstration…The history nerd inside of me was quite content.

Right before he made the cannon go off

Captain's quarters

My dad really enjoyed himself, he’s a big fan of the Patrick O’Brian Aubrey-Maturin books, and got a kick out of showing me all the parts of the ship and which sail does what and where the Orlop deck is and everything. It was so nice to be out in the sunlight, catching the smell of the ocean on the spring air, feeling the slight sway of the deck beneath my feet, and enjoying the time with my parents.

Mom and Dad enjoying their stroll on the pier

It was so sunny!!!

I never thought I would say this, but I kinda wanted them to stay a bit longer. Ever since freshman year I’ve reveled in being away from home and spending a limited amount of time with my parents. But this weekend I was actually reluctant to see them go. Maybe it’s a maturity thing, maybe it was the previous rough week, or maybe it’s just nostalgia. Whatever it is, I’m glad I’m at least able to recognize how thankful I am for my parents. Not just for giving me their time and energy both growing up and now, but also for their constant encouragement in my education.

People always ask if being homeschooled gives me an advantage. I don’t think I can answer that yet. But I know it definitely shaped my love of independence, reading and higher education, and new experiences. So, thank you, Mom and Dad. You’re the best.

*And for those of you who want to know (and I know you’re out there, I got asked this all the time when I was homeschooled): No, I did not wear my pajamas to school. I got dressed every day.

Warming Up and Reaching High

You know those days that are so good that nothing can get you down? Everything is good: the weather, your lunch, the people you see & talk to, the lit exam you had that morning, you even feel great in your body.

Spring is officially here on the Evergreen campus.

I’m in such a good mood I’m even listening to Marry You by Bruno Mars!

Yeah, sure, the weather has a lot to do with it, but I think my very positive view of the world comes from some recent accomplishments I’ve been keeping from you guys (this blog isn’t supposed to be about me so much as the school, anyway). But I figured it should probably be known that Loyola really does honor students who put in a lot of time and effort into their work.

The first of these “nice things” that have been happening the past week is the phenomenal support I’ve been getting from you amazing readers. From a father whose daughter is looking at Loyola and has asked me some great questions to the senior who just told me he enjoys reading my work to the professors who compliment my style and ask if I’ve considered taking a class in their departments. Thank you all. You keep my spirits up and allow me to truly speak my mind. You are part of this blog just as much as I am.

Going along with this theme of recognition is the publication of The Forum, the school’s non-fiction literary book featuring the winners of the First Year Essay contest and other class writings. Last year I wrote a paper on how college campus stereotyping can have a greater influence on future social choices than we expect. As proud as I am to have tied for fourth place, I’m even more proud to say that I know the first place winner, Chandler Zolliecoffer. Her piece on self perception and personal development in the African American community through the role of her hair was amazing. Her mature writing style and combination of personal anecdotes make a riveting expository paper. I was lucky enough to take a photography class with her last year and her art pieces were just as stunning as her writing.

Loyola doesn’t just publish wonderful writers, but also displays student artwork in the annual student show in the Julio Fine Arts Gallery. As I walked by the gallery today to get lunch at boulder, I saw my cyborg piece from last semester’s Life Drawing class front and center. I’m pretty sure I was grinning non-stop for the rest of the walk through the College Center. However, as cool as it is that one of my pieces in the show, I can’t wait to see my fellow students’ work. My friends Christine and Amanda have some spectacular drawings and prints from their classes this year, and as seniors I know they’re going to excel in the art world after graduation.

It’s getting pretty warm out here on the Humanities porch and I’m pretty sure I’m sunburned (even though I’ve only been out here for an hour or so), but there’s one more thing I want to mention about Loyola’s tradition of celebrating students’ successes.

Weekend before last was the annual Dean’s List luncheon, an hour or two of good food, inspiring speeches, and much gratitude given to students and parents alike. To make Dean’s List, a student must maintain a GPA of 3.5 and take 15 credits each semester. Given that most, if not all, courses at Loyola are challenging in one way or another, earning this achievement is a huge confidence booster. As I looked around at the tables surrounding me at the lunch, I saw many familiar faces: friends, classmates, even students I see on my breaks between classes. It’s comforting to know there are so many people here who care about the intellectual spirit of the school and dedicate so much of their time to learning not just for the grade, but for the sake of knowledge itself.

So now that it’s about 75 degrees and my computer is uncomfortably warm on my slightly pink legs, I think it’s time for me to cool off with a cold drink inside. I’ll make sure to end this beautiful day with a bang though!