REID: The man I always wanted to be

At the University as a now 70-year-old, I have continued a life-long pursuit of an ethereal “becoming,” hoping that my continual process of “being many things” would lead me there. Little did I know that the Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree program was the journey, the gateway, the portal through which I would eventually pass, emerging as. . .the man I always wanted to be.

I embraced this opportunity more completely than anything in my prior life, and with the constant, mostly unconditional presence of Susan Findlay Reid, my wife of 45 years, I was able to seek an undergraduate experience that I will rank as second to none. The classes were invigorating, tough, rewarding and taught marvelously by a mixed bag of wonderful educators. The administrators were cheerful, helpful and gave unstintingly of their time and knowledge for us, the sometimes bewildered but always willing student body.

Speaking of our University-wide student body, there is a man in the process of becoming, whom I give much credit for helping me realize my dreams as a Cavalier. Siddhartha Pailla, known to all as Sid, occupied a Range room for my three years as an undergraduate. One day in The Virginian, he looked at me and said “Jerry, you landed on the Lawn in a rocket ship, climbed out of the smoking hole, threw your arms out and said. . . are you ready for this?” Actually, what happened was that I was an accidental tourist who landed on a magic carpet, grabbed on with both hands, and rode it to the most valuable, rewarding and joyful time of my life. I hope you feel the same way about your time here.

During my time here, there were two Intramural flag football championships, and more than one softball title run that fell just short in a championship game. There were spirited debates, won and lost in Jefferson Hall, home of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society, the oldest continually operating debating society in America. There were eye-, heart- and mind-opening Creative Writing courses, taught with passion and joy by instructors from BIS and the College of Arts and Sciences. There was even the opportunity to have a hand in choosing the band for the 50th Anniversary Jefferson Society Restoration Ball, a sparkling black-tie gala. Would it surprise you to know I chose Doug Clark’s Hot Nuts, a band I first heard perform Rock and Roll in 1961 as a Richmond high school junior? I did not think so!

Now I will seek, thanks to Mr. Jefferson’s Academical Village, the beginning of a new path of graduate work and employment in Student Affairs. The man I have become desires to help younger and older students in their search for what they wish to become. This is my desire, and though yours may be different, as our challenges are different as older learners, we will always be fellow Wahoos — we will always be family to each other, and the Honors of Honor will be worn by us as representatives of the University — the best university in the world.

In closing, I quote Thomas Jefferson, who said “your college friends will be the dearest,” and actor Gene Hackman, the victorious basketball coach in the movie “Hoosiers” — “I love you guys.” And so say I.

Jerry Meadows Reid is a fourth-year in the School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Published May 4, 2014 in Opinion

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