Graduate School: The Very Beginning

         “Better is the end of a thing, than the beginning thereof.” Ecclesiastes 7:8

       “Though thy beginnings were small, your latter end shall greatly increase.” Job 8:7

It was June 24th, 2007. After many days and nights of GRE prep for six months, my exam day was finally here. This was going to be my third attempt and a very crucial one because my score was going to determine if the Computer Science Department at College of Charleston would give me a chance or not. This time, I felt better prepared and more confident in God’s ability to see me through. I drove to the exam center with worship songs playing on my car stereo as I lifted my heart up to God in worship. I could sense that something good was about to happen. I arrived the exam center a few minutes later, said a prayer committing the exam into God’s hands, and then stepped out of the car and just like deja vu once again, I was in front of Thompson Prometric center. I took a deep breath as I stepped into the building. Within minutes, I checked in and was assigned a computer. Once again, I said a prayer and then started the exam. I took the exam four hours straight with no breaks as I was eager to finish and find out my scores. Four hours felt like an eternity. Soon the timer hit zero and it was time to submit my exam. My heart raced as I hit the submit button. Immediately, the scores appeared on the screen and I quickly added up my quantitative and verbal scores. The scores added up to 950. Just 50 points short of the cut-off point – enough to prove to the director of the Computer Science department that I could bridge the gap in my GRE scores and that I would be successful in the program if given a chance to start out as a non-degree-seeking student. I added the scores over again and could not believe it! I was so happy. As soon as I got home, I emailed Ms. Heather, the director of Graduate Admissions and told her the good news. She replied shortly and congratulated me and promised to relay the information to the director of the Computer Science department.

On July 13th, 2007, I received an email from the director of the Computer Science Department saying that Ms. Heather had gotten in touch with him with regards to my latest GRE combined scores. He told me that my effort was commendable and left him hopeful that I would achieve eventual degree seeking status with the Computer Science program. He added that he would offer me provisional admission and specified the preliminary courses I would have to complete and other conditions I would have to meet before I could become a degree-seeking student, and that if I accepted these conditions, they would go ahead with my paper work. I quickly replied accepting the conditions and thanked him and Ms. Heather for all their help throughout the admission process. Within a couple of weeks, my official offer letter for non-degree-seeking admission into the Computer Science program at College of Charleston finally came in the mail. The feeling of finally holding that admission letter in my hands was indescribable. I was overjoyed! When I shared the good news with my mother, she was happy for me but a little sad that I was going to be far away from home.

I started apartment-hunting once again, but just a few days after I began searching for apartments in Charleston, I got a forwarded email from my graduate school advisor about a lovely older couple downtown who were hoping to rent out a furnished room and bathroom in their home to a graduate student with cable and all utilities included at only $450 per month. I was afraid that since the room had been advertised for sometime, that it would no longer be available. It was just a few weeks before the beginning of the semester. Thankfully, God had kept that room for me and when I reached out, it was still available. The house was a beautiful Victorian-styled house just a few blocks away from campus. Just a 15 minute walk to the main campus.
After two months of working with some incredible people at the radio station, I had to say goodbye to my Glory Communications family to begin a new chapter in Charleston. On my last day, I was taken to a lovely restaurant downtown with all the radio personalities and lovely staff that I had come to know in such a short time. Everyone took turns saying great things about me and wishing me well in my new venture. They all gave gifts and cards and I couldn’t keep a dry eye. I was so blessed to have worked with them and for their friendship during that time. 

Few days later, my older brother and I took a trip to College of Charleston for my orientation. I was excited to finally visit College of Charleston. During the orientation, new students and parents were given a tour of the school where we were shown the library, dormitories, the cafeteria, the campus center, department buildings, and so on. It was absolutely a beautiful campus! Soon, we were shown campus buildings on George street and then we approached a large building surrounded by a fence with an ancient-looking entrance into what looked like an open courtyard in front of the building with beautiful large oaks called the “Cistern Yard”. The building looked ancient and unpainted. It was Randolph Hall – the Administration building and one of oldest college buildings in the country. We walked into the courtyard and I approached the building. Something seemed oddly familiar about the building. The tour guides were still describing the building and the courtyard, but somehow I wandered off slightly away from the group and walked towards the building trying to figure out why the building looked so familiar, then I remembered the dream and then I froze. I whispered to myself: “This is the building in my dream from last year!! I’m supposed to be here!!!” This was the clearest sign from God that enrolling at College of Charleston was His will. At that moment I had a renewed sense of hope. Hope that everything else would fall into place. Hope that my Charleston journey was in the Lord’s hands and that He was going to take hold of my hands and guide me every step of the way.

Thanks for reading! Continuation coming soon…