It was Thanksgiving Day. November 23rd, 2006. I woke up bright and early, had devotion, and dashed to the kitchen to prepare some delicious food for our Thanksgiving lunch. Soon, I was joined by two of my siblings. We chatted, cracked jokes, laughed so loud that our laughter could be heard by the neighbors close by. In a few hours, the table was set with a giant baked turkey, fried rice, corn bread, chicken, and more. Shortly, big sis arrived with the most delicious cinnamon flavored pumpkin pie, turkey dressing, and her signature Chinese fried rice. Mom came out from her room, obviously tired from her 12 hour shift the day before at the hospital. She inspected the table as we gathered around the table hungry and ready to munch… “Wow! This is awesome! Well done! Let’s pray.” Mom raised a chorus and we sang with our hearts filled with joy as we surrounded the dining table, completely grateful for family, victories of 2006, and moments like this. This moment meant everything to me. I bowed my head and reflected on the year: all the peaks and valley experiences. 2006 was a challenging year, but through it all, God had been faithful! Mum said a prayer of thanks and then we began to enjoy the meal together as a family. However, I couldn’t ignore the knots in my stomach; my GRE exam was coming up in five days and I was getting extremely nervous. Truthfully, I did not feel prepared. I had only studied for almost a month, but I was still hopeful that I would get a passing score.

The exam day was finally here. November 28, 2006. It was like deja vu all over again. I stood in front of Thompson Prometric Centre and looked at the building for a few minutes and whispered… “God, I never want to visit this place again, Please give me the grace to pass this exam, Amen.” I stepped into the building, checked-in and in a few moments, I was sitting in front of a computer about to take the 4-hour long GRE exam. I said a quick prayer and began the exam. It was nerve-wrecking! Four hours later, I was done with the exam and as soon as I clicked “Submit Exam”, lo and behold, the scores appeared on the screen. As soon as I added up the scores and saw that there was only a 30 point increment from the last attempt, I froze and just sat there with a million thoughts going through my mind. How will I get admitted into College of Charleston with these scores? When will I finally pass this exam?!! I thought. “God please touch the heart of everyone who will make decisions regarding my admission into College of Charleston.” I whispered a little prayer, packed up my stuff, and walked out of the exam center. When I got home that day, I sat in front of my computer reluctant to send an email to Ms. Heather (not her real name) about my GRE scores. Ms. Heather was the director of graduate admission at the College of Charleston. A lovely lady who was so pleasant and positive each time I spoke with her on the phone about the graduate admission process. I finally mustered the courage and sent Ms. Heather the email about my scores and told her to expect the official scores to be sent directly to the school soon. Two days later, Ms. Heather replied. She told me that we would need to discuss the scores as they did not meet the cut-off point required for the program. She promised to talk it over with the Director of the Computer Science department and get back to me. Even with the low GRE scores, I still believed in the God who makes all things possible. I replied back to Ms. Heather and told her that I was disappointed in my scores and the fact that I did not meet the cut-off point. I asked her if I could be admitted on probational basis while I prepared to retake the GRE exam, and get officially admitted when I meet the cut-off point, she said, “Of course!  I’ll get back to you on that.” Ms. Heather was truly an angel during my graduate admission process. She was God-sent! She called the Director of the Computer Science program and discussed ways that that they could help me get into the program. When there were initial pushbacks by the department, she told them, “All I see on her undergraduate transcript are A’s and B’s. She is really smart, give her a chance!” It’s amazing how God used Ms. Heather to speak on my behalf. They had enough reasons to send me a rejection letter and move on to the next application. But God stepped in and granted me favor before Ms. Heather.

After several discussions on my case between the Graduate Admissions Office and the Computer Science department, the Computer Science department decided to grant me provisional admission as a non-degree-seeking student for Spring 2007 with a few conditions. I was required to take some core Computer Science undergraduate courses since I didn’t have a Computer Science background, I was also required to retake the GRE exam and meet the cut-off point before I would be considered as a degree-seeking student. I was told that coming in as a non-degree-seeking student did not guarantee being officially admitted into the graduate program later. I was also asked to expect a letter soon with these conditions clearly stated. I knew this was nothing but the hand of God at work. I couldn’t contain my joy. This was the opportunity I needed. I knew that God had begun this good work, and He was going to perfect it and cause me to eventually get admitted as a degree-seeking student.

By faith, I started searching for apartments in Charleston. At this point, I still did not receive the conditional acceptance letter yet. I found a lovely 3-bedroom apartment online with two other roommates and planned a trip to Charleston immediately. I remember my mother’s reaction when I told her I was planning to go apartment hunting in Charleston. “Have you received the acceptance letter from the school yet?” “No”, I replied. “Do you have money for rent, and tuition?” “The Lord will provide!” I replied. Mum had concerns, but she was very supportive. Few days later, my mum, my sisters, and I headed to Charleston, a two hour drive from Columbia. As soon as we arrived Charleston, I began to pray in my spirit on our way to the apartment. As soon as I stepped foot in Charleston, I began to silently make some decrees… “God, you said in your word that wherever the soles of my feet tread, it belongs to me. I claim every opportunity, open door, and success you have prepared for me in this land. Bring people into my life who will help me at every stage of my Charleston journey. It shall be well with me in every way in Charleston, Amen.” My sisters and mum had no idea that the trip to Charleston involved more than just apartment hunting. It was an opportunity for me to claim my territory and speak into existence all the blessings that God had in store for me in Charleston. 

To be continued…