Today I drove 5 hours to get to Charleston, IL. This was another full-circle moment for me. EIU is where I went to college, where I joined Alpha Phi, where Shannon joined Alpha Phi and where she was later murdered. It’s the place where I met my bridesmaids and my friends for life. It’s where I really got jiggy with it at local watering holes. It’s where I learned I was capable of using my voice to take action and make a difference. It was also the first GFB program I ever gave, as a way of trying out for my speaker’s bureau CAMPUSPEAK. I videotaped it and sent it to them…several days later I received a contract from them with an offer to join. It’s been full steam ahead ever since.I’ve only been back to my alma mater a few times since graduating. Once for Homecoming 2000. The visit after that was for Shannon’s 2 weeek murder trial, which afterwards, I wasn’t too psyched to return for awhile. I came back in 2003 for Homecoming to recieve the Outstanding Young Alum award during the halftime presentation. The other recipients were older dudes, dressed up fancy and had white hair. Here I was, 25 years old, wearing an EIU sweatshirt and A-Phi baseball cap, and I must confess…I was also a tad buzzed from hangin’ at Marty’s the whole morning. Oh yeah, I was also late for the presentation, so I was that girl who ran onto the football field mid-presentation. (and thought it was hilarious…so did the crowd.) Real classy, huh?
So fast forward to today, where I drove 7 hours from Iowa to Charleston. Clearly I had a lot of time to think and reflect on the 5 years since Shannon’s murder. I called her mom, Cindy, during my drive. We both decided it wasn’t Charleston’s or Eastern’s fault that Shannon was killed there, and we both decided to make new, good memories of the place and replace them with the yucky ones from the trial.And that, I did! Tonight’s program was phenomenal. It was mostly organized by my friend Jason, who is Sigma Pi president and one of the most enthusiastic, dedicated adn motivated students I have ever worked with. No stone went unturned with this guy. It was truly awesome. I gave the program to several hundred women, who according to the amount of friends I acquired from Facebook, seemed to really dig it. Afterwards we created even more good memories by getting a group together and reflecting on a great event over a frothy beverage.So I can honestly say for the first time in a long while, I will miss Charleston…but tomorrow the tour continues as I drive to Oxford, Ohio. Stay tuned! (Pictured above, my Sig Pi friends utilizing the cool Bed Head stuff in creative ways!)