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Go south, young man (and please, eat something!)

October 4, 2013

Though I visit every year, I am nearly moved to tears each time I stand on those steps and reflect upon the sacrifices made so that all Americans may pursue a quality education. This special place inspires my life's work. I think that all Americans should visit the National Historic Site located directly across the street from Little Rock Central HIgh School.

Located on the North lawn of the Arkansas State Capital, "Testament" is a sculpture honoring the spirit and bold experiences of the nine brave young people that are more commonly known as "the Little Rock Nine."

Visiting the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel was a chilling, yet inspiring experience. I highly recommend it.

Traveling through the South for most of the month of September was a refreshing experience for me. The gentle pace and genuine charm of the people living in southern states is steady and soothing for a busy Angelino.  Every year, I'm surprised by the regular use of "sir" and "ma'am" by students at college fairs and high school visits. I am equally, however pleasantly, surprised by the warm and sincere small talk that I am met with in the streets, restaurants, and even elevators of cities I visit each year.

In Atlanta, a mother all but demanded that I eat some of the spread that she had arranged just for the Admissions Officers at a small, evening college fair. 

During meetings with Community Based Organizations, I was greeted with fresh baked cookies and constant offers of refreshments. 

In Memphis, a man asked me all about my day and wished me a nice and safe weekend and meant it. (This happened all month long.) 

All of these little things make me proud to have the duty of visiting the South and the honor of reading applications from these sharp, yet sweet students. The smooth slow pace of places like Little Rock, Memphis, and Birmingham helps raise bright, but big hearted students with a unique perspective - a perspective that I can only hope to see more of on our campus each year.

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