Thursday, February 18, 2010

Famous People, and Nebraska

Last weekend was quite eventful as I traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska for a graduate school interview. I got to the Salt Lake Airport at 5 am Thursday morning and boarded my flight. As I sat at my window seat, wondering who would be occupying the seat next to me, a very large man came into view. I grumbled within myself. "Oh great, looks like I'll be sharing half of my seat," I thought.

The man sat down and we began chatting. He was on his way to Colorado to give a speech. When I asked him what for, he told me he used to wrestle. "Like, professionally?" was all I could think to ask. "I won the gold medal in Sydney and the bronze in Athens." What?! At that point I knew I had heard of him, but I had to ask his name. "Rulon Gardner," he confirmed. No way--I was sitting next to Rulon Gardner. We talked about what it felt like to win a Gold Medal, and how one goes about training for a sport like wrestling. My dumb question was, "How do you train for wrestling, anyway? It's not like you can just wrestle people, all the time!" He paused, and then said, "Yep, that's how you train. You just wrestle people, all the time. Big people, small people. You just find people to wrestle."

In Denver, I got on my connecting flight to Omaha. This time I sat next to a man with a British accent, and we immediately began chatting about where we were going and why. He was a musician headed to Iowa for a performance. When I probed, I found out he was a member of the King's Singers. He told me about singing for President Hinckley, we talked about religious traditions like Mardi Gras and Lent, and he told me stories of times when he had failed or not been given what he wanted but how he knew God had a plan for him. He seemed like such a wise fellow. His parting words to me were, "Have a nice journey. Be yourself!"

And there I was, in Omaha, having spent my morning with two different famous people, and wondering what I could/should have learned from each of them. And then I started thinking about how much I could probably learn from ANY person, if I could sit with them and talk with them and invest the same amount of interest in what they had to say as I would for an Olympic athlete or a world-class singer.

The next four days were spent in Lincoln, Nebraska. Friday I had my all-day interview with the faculty of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at University of Nebraska. It was great; I was impressed by the program and liked the town. I added a slew of items to the 'pros' side of my running pros and cons list for Nebraska (I have one for each of the schools I'm applying to).

Tuesday morning I got a call from one of the MFT faculty from Nebraska. I'm in! What a huge relief to get in to a program. I will go to school next year, for sure! I have two interviews left, and lots more considering to do, but I'm stoked about the idea of being a Corn Husker.


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