A long time ago on the Southern Virginia campus, I was an awkward young teenage boy. Frankly, I feel mostly embarrassed just remembering poor, helpless teenage Alec, but a little nostalgic too. I was attending a youth conference put on by the Latter-day Saint Home Educators (LDSHE). Having been around homeschoolers all my life, I can confidently say that — contrary to the popular stereotype — most homeschooled youth demonstrate exceptional social skills. I, however, was totally awkward and socially inept. That said, I really enjoyed the conference and even made some good friends. Beyond that, there was something about this place that felt really right to me; a feeling I remembered years later when I was deciding where to go for my college education.
Fast forward to last week. Being at Southern Virginia has given me plenty of opportunity to come out of my shell. I got an email from Justin Smith, associate director of off-campus recruiting and all-around cool dude. He asked if I wouldn’t mind representing the school at this year’s LDSHE conference. Now, I’ve always been a sucker for people who casually ask huge favors of me (that’s something I probably shouldn’t advertise online) so I couldn’t refuse. This year the conference was in Virginia Beach. I convinced my friend Stephen “Taytay” Taylor to come with me, which was pretty easy. What was difficult was convincing his finacée to let him go, but we even pulled that off.
On Thursday morning we drove down to Virginia Beach. It took about four hours to get there. You know you’ve had a liberal arts education when you spend a four hour road trip with your buddy discussing things like the concise style of 7th century Sanskrit love poetry…and you actually think it’s like the coolest thing.
Anyway, once we arrived we took up our vigil at the Southern Virginia University booth. I embedded a picture from my Instagram so you can get an idea of what it was like, although the pretzel M&M’s were only a temporarily feature of our table. We talked to some great people. Things were set up so that we’d mostly talk with parents while the youth participated in activities, but many of the parents were anxious for us to talk with their kids and answer their questions directly. We met some really bright young people. People often tell me I’m a smart Alec, but I had nothing on those guys. We could see them become excited as we explained how the genius of small at Southern Virginia could provide them with the opportunities and the personal relationships to make their education as exceptional as they deserved.
Taytay and I manned the booth nonstop from eight to five for two days, although we took turns attending the two excellent presentations delivered by Southern Virginia’s very own Dr. Ariel Rodriguez. On Friday evening we packed up and drove back. By the time we got back to the Beev we were exhausted, but it was a fantastic experience. It gave me the chance to think about how far I’ve come in the past ten years since my last encounter with LDSHE. I love how the experiences like these that I’ve had at Southern Virginia have helped me come out of my comfort zone and become a better leader-servant.
(Post by Alec Johnson ’14.)