Tuesday, May 10, 2011

PBA, Book One

My days at Palm Beach Atlantic College (now University), for the most part, had been filed away in some non-descript cabinet amongst the cortices of my brain. It was 20 years ago that I graduated with my Bachelor's in Business Administration and a minor in Communications. I majored in Bus. because that seemed to be the course to Success. I would graduate and corporations would court me and offer me an office with a view and expense account and lunches in Palm Beach that would last 2 hours every day.

When I hit the pavement to find a job, I of course learned otherwise. I brought my crisp, hot off the Xerox machine resumes to several banks in downtown Orlando (I'll explain why I was there later) only to learn that they were indeed hiring entry-level tellers. I would actually have to work my way up. The old story - why did I go to college? You've heard it before. But again, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Yes, invisible audience, I will begin yet another thematic series, this time dealing with those long-ago days at a little private Christian liberal arts college in West Palm Beach, FL. When you get into your 40s, I suppose you get a moment to think back, take stock. Those PBA years were actually pretty uneventful and pleasant. Until my junior year, when things got interesting.

I grew up in WPB, always aware of PBA, as it was right next door to the First Baptist Church I attended. When I was in 1st grade or so, my class at First Baptist Day School saw a play in the old Administration building Theater; that's my earliest specific memory of PBA. Its campus overlapped with the church's and the day school's at several junctions. I had not planned to go there after high school; I was heading to the University of Florida like many of my classmmates.

However, things at home were very volatile. My mother and father were splitting up, and my mother needed my encouragement to leave. Being the only child, I felt obligated to be there for her. I think now that perhaps I should've gone off somewhere else, but then I wonder how my mother would've done. It's a long, sad, complicated story. I did the right thing, as during my freshmen year at PBA she finally rallied the courage to flee all of the verbal abuse of my father. But I can't help but wonder how differently life would've turned out if I had flown the coop.

The summer between hs and college I was phoned relentlessly by PBA admissions. One guy in particular, whose name escapes me at the moment, was persistent. I was reluctant, thinking that the school was not prestigious enough, that it would not exactly jump off my resume years later (turns out that was correct, at least initially). I remember sitting in Orientation months later, chuckling with my friend when someone proudly announced that the average ACT score had risen to "12"?! In any event, everything came together for me to attend, and I did. I will devote a few posts to those 4 years between 1987 and 1991.

A few things have prompted this: Dr. Donald Warren's Miracles and Wonders: A Chronicle of Palm Beach Atlantic University, which I'll discuss, and my continuing relationship with one of PBA's founders, Dr. Jess Moody. He was the pastor at First Baptist when PBA first opened in 1968. The above photo is of a statue of Dr. Moody which was uneveiled this past April on the PBA campus. I'll speak of him at length, too, and what an inspiration he's been at various stages of my lifetime. Also, Mr. Donald Harp, Alumni Director at PBA for many years, has been a great friend for a long time. Stay tuned...
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