Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

November 22, 2011

Emory University and Me

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

There is a place where a string seems to draw the years together.  I thought the other day about such a place.  It is Emory University.

Emory University, located in Dekalb County, Georgia,was founded in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia.  A strong Methodist college with a commitment to be an educational institution of high standards, it would move to the Atlanta area in 1915 to incorporate medical and dental schools.

My life truly began on the campus of Emory University at the University hospital.  Though the address of the University is now listed as Atlanta, my birth certificate reads “Emory University, Georgia.”  The years following would find me often on the campus.

To my recollection, the next time I was to be in the hospital at Emory was following an automobile accident.  Those were days when there were no emergency services.  A doctor and his wife stopped at the scene.  They were from South Carolina and on their way to a medical convention at Emory.  When he asked me if I knew the hospital, I responded, “I was born there.”  This kind couple drove me to the hospital and waited until my parents arrived.  I was not frightened to be alone as I felt Emory was part of my life.

My next bead in the string was participating in a science fair held at the University.  As a high school student, I entered the state science fair with my project.  We were required to stay with our project throughout the fair which lasted several days.  I recall feeling at home on campus and would go to “Dooley’s Den.”  This was the center of activity and the place for snacks.   Later this would be a real “hang-out” for me.

As a high school debater, most district and state debates were held on the Emory University campus.  Again, this was a place where I had confidence and felt it was truly part of my life.  I often wondered if being born on this campus brought some connection!

Toward the close of my senior year in high school I was hospitalized and had surgery for a kidney stone.  You guessed it –it was at Emory University Hospital where I was born.  I remember well that several nurses and others exclaimed that I was one of few patients they had who had been born in the hospital.  But the story continues.

At graduation from high school, I received a scholarship to Emory University.  I had not particularly considered going to college there — I had actually anticipated going to a college in another state.  But when the scholarship was offered for six years as long as I proved myself academically, how could I not accept it?   Being a recipient of this gift — and the opportunity to choose a vocation that I saw as profitable at that point in my life — I chose dental school.  But that is another story!

It was a joy to be a freshman on the campus that I knew so well.  I felt it gave me an edge socially over most of the other students.  With all the joy of being a student there, my immaturity did not seize the privilege given to me.  It was not long before the aura of college –even Emory University — waned, and I dropped out.  It was not Emory University that I turned my back on, but on responsibility and commitment.

Though it would be several years, I would return to this place that was such a part of my life.  Several years later I would finish college at another institution, and some seven years after that, I returned to Emory University as a graduate student. It was a different story this time. Basically recruited to be a graduate student at the age of 31, I had the privilege to be involved in the University attempting to regain its reputation after the national publicity that ensued from Dr. Thomas J.J. Altizer with his proclamation,  “God is Dead.”  Again, there was joy to be part of an institution that had touched my life in so many ways.

When our youngest son entered college– yes, it was Emory University.  With his life involved there, our lives were committed also as we would regularly visit the campus. Although we lived in another state, I would return a few years later for consultations and treatment from a rare illness as Emory had become a renowned research facility.  I have spent no time on the campus since, but time can never erase from my life and memory that place known as Emory University.  Emory University is definitely a part of my life.

As I write these memories, I am struck with the value of such institutions in our lives.  Many of us recall an elementary or high school, a college, or a hospital that has been in and out of our lives from time to time.  For many of these institutions, we need to be grateful for the impact they have had on our lives.

With many such places, I assure you the most valuable and cherished institution in the world is the church!  Never could I begin to recount the memories and value of the church in my life.  It has truly changed my life in every area. The church is different from all other institutions.  No other institution can compete with it in shaping our lives.  If you are not part of the church, I urge you to check it out.  It will make a profound difference in you.

Lawson

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