A few months later, I was seriously reconsidering my thoughts about Belmont. Yes, I liked the campus and the city of Nashville but I didn’t know if I was up for all the “Jesus-loving” (yes, that’s an actual quote from the website) plus the majority of students are music majors and the school has less kids than SHS! I then turned my attention to researching art schools since I knew I wanted to be an art teacher. And of course, I discovered that they are all quite expensive. At this point I started to get pretty upset. I knew I didn’t belong at an art school anyway, because I really wanted to have a big university experience with Division I sports and everything. My needs were simple. Not in Illinois, in an urban area, not insanely expensive, good art program, no religious affiliation, and decent sports.
The summer before senior year I visited the University of Wisconsin in Madison with my best friend, Puja. The campus was also very pretty and I liked the visit we went on. Wisconsin also qualified with many of my needs. Not in Illinois. Urban. Art. No affiliation. Good sports. The only problem… the hefty tuition. I still applied, but soon became frustrated with those damn Northerners. All they kept sending me was crap about housing and nothing about scholarships/financial aid. You see, to receive a scholarship at UW, you need to be “historically underrepresented” or “low income”. Now, this made me quite angry. I get to thinking, I’m smart, athletic, involved, and artistic and yet, not good enough for a scholarship at Wisconsin. While my family does not live in the streets, they can hardly afford to send two kids to college for $130,000 each. At this point, my focus shifted to UT because I was invited to interview for a scholarship.
Dad had been pushing me to apply to an Illinois school as well. I decided on ISU because it was at least not as mainstream as U of I. We visited one day during fall of my senior year and it didn’t seem all that bad. Dad thought it might have been a better chance to get scholarships since I was an Illinois resident. That proved to be wrong. The state of Illinois gives absolutely zero crap about Illinois residents. I got a $2,000 scholarship, barely putting a dent in the tuition. I didn’t even bother thinking about ISU anymore.
In winter of my senior year, Dad and I flew down to Knoxville to interview at UT. I visited the school and loved it! I felt like the interview went well, so I was really positive about Tennessee when I got home. Despite all this, a few weeks later I received a letter saying that I had not received the scholarship, or any other scholarships at UT, but thanks for trying and we hope to see you in the fall. Really? After all the work I had done, all the applications, all the letters of recommendation, all the A.P. classes, all the volunteer work, all the interviews… I had nothing. Absolutely nothing. I was devastated. I still get upset when I think about this, how hard I worked, and how all these schools thought of it as nothing. And they seriously expected me to want to go to their school. Not a chance.
In the midst of all this upsetting news I remembered that I had applied at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky. They were mostly afterthoughts, a product of driving by the U of L campus on the way back from Florida and Tennessee. The real reason I actually applied there? Taquan Dean. Back when I first got into college basketball in 2005 when U of I went to the championship game, many people forget that Louisville also made it to the Final Four. Most of that Final Four run was due to a player by the name of Taquan Dean. My mom and I loved Taquan, solely due to his awesome name. In fact, in 2005, I would not have been able to point him out in a lineup if you showed me all the players on U of L. I knew nothing about him, but I loved him anyway. Family was like, “Hey, let’s go to Kentucky for Spring Break to check out these schools.” And I was like, “Yes, family, let’s do that.” Spring break, senior year, we drove down to U of L to visit the campus. It was love at first sight. Yes, I’m easily influenced by campus tours (see: Belmont, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Illinois State, etc.) but Louisville was the real deal. The campus was beautiful (but compact), it was located in a big city (but not too insanely big), the sports teams were great (every single one of them), the school had a decent art program, and BASEBALL. Louisville really knew how to sell a school to me. Of course, they had a baseball game going on when we visited. We stopped by and watched the Cardinals take on the Georgetown Hoyas for a few innings. That year, the Cardinals actually made it to the CWS tournament! A good baseball team was a great plus for me. We visited the Louisville Slugger museum downtown, ate at some fantastic restaurants, and traveled to some of the classic landmarks.
Later on, we headed to Lexington to visit UK. At first glance, Lexington seemed like a quaint city and the University was actually quite pretty. But upon first stepping on UK soil, something felt horribly wrong in my gut. The campus felt so wrong, so erroneous, so incredibly yuppie. I felt like I was in Wrigley Field, and I could not have that! We took a tour, but quickly left the confines of UK. At that point I truly knew that U of L was perfect for me. I already hated UK without knowing anything about it meaning that I was obviously meant to become a U of L fan. And guess what? Louisville even gave me a scholarship! With my scholarship I get in-state tuition, which was way cheaper than any other school I had applied at. The deal was done. I was officially a Louisville Cardinal. So many adventures, and my college career had not even begun yet.