I greeted the staff of Panera Bread café as I walked in early in the morning – November 1st 2006. I was undoubtedly their first customer of the day. I headed to the back section of the café and picked the most comfortable spot, set my laptop on the table, and pulled out my GRE prep materials. Panera Bread café had become my favorite coffee shop; I visited the coffee shop every single day they were open. They had free Internet, free unlimited coffee refills, and you guessed it – Bread!! LOL. It was almost a week since I resumed preparations for the GRE exams and researching graduate schools. I was making quite a bit of progress on my GRE prep. I had a list of potential graduate schools, but was reluctant to apply to the schools on my list for various reasons – location, admission requirements, program of study, etc. Today was the graduate school application deadline for most colleges for the Spring semester, and so it was crucial to submit an application that day. 

“Good morning ma’am! What can I get for you?” A waiter approached me with a menu. I browsed the menu briefly and then told the waiter, “French Baguette please with some butter… and hot chocolate, thanks!” The waiter acknowledged my order, collected the menu and left while I inhaled the sweet smell of warm freshly baked bread coming from the bakery. Yum! I returned to my GRE studies and when my order arrived, it was a perfect time to let my brain take a break while I savored all the goodness of the French baguette and hot chocolate. I logged into my computer and continued my graduate school research. One college came to mind – College of Charleston; a friend had recently graduated from this college so I decided to check out their website. Everything I read about the school was great – feasible application requirements, perfect Computer Science program and course offerings, great location, proximity to beaches and waterfront parks – I loved everything about this school! Luckily, that day was the application deadline, so I quickly applied for graduate school admission. I submitted applications to other graduate schools as well to increase my chances of receiving an admission letter.

In less than a week, I had submitted all my supporting documents except my GRE scores, and my official transcript. That week, I went to Benedict College to request for my official undergraduate transcript to be sent to the graduate schools I had applied to. I went to the Enrollment Management office and spoke to a student account manager and was denied my transcript release due to my outstanding tuition balance. I knew that the only person who would be able to authorize my transcript release was the college president, so I decided to go to the president’s office immediately and petition for my transcript release. I arrived at the president’s office reception moments later. I walked up to the administrative assistant and asked if I could see the president. She asked if I had an appointment and I told her that I didn’t. She asked why I needed to see the president and then I explained my situation. The admin then told me that the president would be busy for an extended time and would not be able to see me. “It’s okay, I’ll wait till he is available.” I told the admin and then sat down and picked a magazine. Two hours passed, and I was still waiting. Occasionally, the admin would check to see if I was still waiting. Three and a half hours later, I was still waiting. When the admin saw my persistence, she knew I would wait for eight hours or more until the president came out. “Miss?” She called “I will go check and see if the president is available.” She went to the president’s office in the back and few minutes later, I was asked to go in and see the president. 

The president of Benedict College gave me a warm smile and motioned for me to have a seat as I entered his office. I greeted him and introduced myself and then made my request. The president looked up my account on his computer and told me I had quite a substantial balance that I needed to clear. He asked me if I was willing to pay at least $2,000 upfront, and I told him I unfortunately did not have that amount and then I began to cry. “Do you have a parent I can call?” The president asked. “Yes Sir! My mother.” I responded. In a few minutes, I dialed my mother’s number on the president’s desk phone and when my mother heard me sobbing in the background, it broke her heart. “What’s wrong?” She asked. I explained everything to her and she began to encourage me. “Everything will be okay, don’t cry!” My mum tried to console me. The president jumped in and introduced himself to my mother and they had a lengthy conversation and then made payment arrangements. After my mother hung up, the president then informed me that my mother had made payment arrangements and that the school was going to release only one transcript. I am eternally grateful to my mother for her love and sacrifice.

I left Benedict College that day happy about my transcript release. My official undergraduate transcript was sent to College of Charleston few days later. Although I couldn’t send official transcripts to the other graduate schools to increase my chances of graduate admission, I had faith that my steps were ordered by the Lord, and that if I was only going to send a completed application to just one graduate school, then that had to be the right school for me according to God’s will.

To be continued…