Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives


How Did I End Up at Southwestern?

  • Austin Archinal
    Austin Archinal
    by Anne Bannister, SU Student Ambassador
  • Austin Archinal
    Austin Archinal
    by Anne Bannister, SU Student Ambassador

by Austin Archinal, SU Student Ambassador

The first time I heard about Southwestern was on a day that I hardly remember. I don’t know the specific date it happened—or even the month, for that matter—but I remember the pamphlet. Or, I mean, I remember the cover of the pamphlet. Anyway, that cover really stuck with me.

I’m about eighty-five percent certain there was a yellow bar on the top of the cover, probably with “Southwestern University” and some sort of brief tag-line typed in the official SU font, Galliard. (Fun fact: Galliard is basically Times New Roman but slightly larger and noticeably thinner. I imagine it saves ink when printing. I would use it right now to give you an example, but it is not an available font on Google Drive. And I’m not about to sacrifice the convenience of Google Drive.) But immediately below the university’s name, there was a picture of a yellow bike with a black seat and black grips on the handlebars.

“What is this: a brochure on ‘bike school?’” I asked myself, possibly aloud. “Is this, like, some sort of Dutch university or something? Is Dutch—or The Netherlands, or Holland, or whatever—in a relatively ‘Southwestern’ position to anything important?” My questions truly cut to the core of a deep and abiding internal conflict as to the reasons behind advertising a university with fixed-gear bicycles.

But I was wrong on all counts. Billing itself as “Texas’ first institution of higher learning,” Southwestern is most assuredly not in The Netherlands. It’s in… “Georgetown? What is Georgetown?” my questioning mind continued. But after discovering its proximity to Austin—the cultural hub of Texas, probably, I think—I found myself dreaming of escape.

But…From Where Was I Trying to Escape?

I was raised in Lubbock, Texas: the purported “Hub City” of the South Plains. But I never saw it as the hub of anything save dry, dusty, flat towns, spread thinly across the dry, dusty, flat plains. The idea of Austin, however… Well, I’d never even been to Austin before. In my mind, it was a magical remedy for the stagnation of the Panhandle. “I’m gonna go off to college in Austin and revitalize my life, my personality, my future! I’m gonna ride yellow bikes all the way to the realization of my greatest dreams!” My imagination ran—and continues to run—wild.

My application was sent in shortly after my encounter with the yellow bike pamphlet. I privileged the Southwestern application over applications to other universities, devoting significant time and effort in categories I’d previously breezed past. And then… I scheduled a visit. Limestone building after limestone building towered over me as I walked down the curving sidewalks, shaded by trees.

And What Did I Know About Any of This?

Trees. Trees were an alien presence. Even when I saw trees in the front yards of Lubbock houses, they always seemed out of place—forced to exist in the torture of an arid, barren environment. In Georgetown, the trees were at home. They lived in a natural union with the surrounding structures, and I realized that I would be given the same opportunity.

Austin Archinal and trees.Austin Archinal and trees.

I sat in on classes, hung out in a residence hall, walked around the entire campus in the dark silence of night—I positioned myself in the very midst of the life I was observing. I was a unique part comprising the whole of this limestone academic haven.

I stepped into my parents’ car and took a last look at the campus before we began the homeward drive—a great green tree throwing its shade against the nearest building. “Mom,” I said in an airy, hopeful voice. “I need to stay here.”

As I enter my final year at Southwestern, it remains the remedy for stagnation that I had so desperately sought.

Related Content