I enrolled at Western Kentucky University in the fall of 1987. I was 20 years old and scared to death. After having been a student at the University of Louisville for my first two years of college, I had decided to switch schools, midstream, and begin my journey at WKU, in order to major in journalism. I didn’t know a lot about Western at the time, but I did know that their journalism program was one of the best in the country, and I wanted to be a part of it. I had a lifelong friend who had already been at Western for a year, so we worked it out where we could be roommates in Keen Hall when I arrived on campus. Still, I was nervous, anxious and a little terrified after unpacking my belongings and seeing my parents off on that first day at my new school. The dorm seemed very small, but as time passed, I came to call it home. Back then, there weren’t a lot of food options on campus, so my roommate and I became very familiar with ravioli and spaghetti meals created courtesy of the microwave. Believe it or not, we watched a black and white television for entertainment, did not have cable channels and, yes, no internet.
For me, every day began with a walk from the bottom of the Hill to the top, as the majority of my classes were found in the Garrett Conference Center on campus. At that time, the student newspaper, the College Heights Herald, could also be found in Garrett, and I was fortunate to be a staff member with them during my senior year. The walk from my dorm to class was tough most days, and I quickly learned why we were called the Hilltoppers!
Life on campus was very different back then, compared to now, but we were all usually content, nonetheless. In my 2 1/2 years on the Hill, I met many interesting people from many different backgrounds. This really enabled me to get outside of my comfort zone and expand my horizons. The professors I had, the friends I made and the activities I participated in are all things that I still recall fondly today, 30 years later. During my days at WKU, I played intramural sports, attended many football and basketball games (we were Ohio Valley Conference and Sun Belt back then) and even got to be on the same Diddle Arena floor with President Ronald Reagan, as he had come to Bowling Green to campaign for then Republican presidential candidate George H. Bush. Being 21 years old and in the same building with the president of the United States, I just knew I was in the middle of something pretty important. Later that week, I shook the hand of the Democratic presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis, who had stopped on campus while campaigning. George H. Bush would, of course, later win the presidency and Mr. Dukakis would become a historical footnote, but I will always remember that handshake.
Looking back, my time at Western was relatively brief, but it really helped shape me for who I would become as an adult. I will always cherish my days on the Hill.
I graduated WKU in 1989 and shortly thereafter, became a member of the “real world.” As I left campus then for the last time as a student, I was unaware that I would be returning 25 years later to welcome my son to the Hill as a student. That was a very proud moment for me and with homecoming approaching for yet another year, I will always consider WKU my home.
Steve Huff, Class of 1989