What have you been up to these days? I just realize that the last time we met each other was almost a decade ago. Isn’t that crazy? We have a lot of catching up to do and I don’t even know where to start. Well, I got married and blessed with a very cute boy. His name is Duke. I named him after Duke Ellington. I always wanted you to meet him one of these days, but I can’t find you.
Last week I called your office, but an operator at Millersville answered instead. He told me that the Upward Bound program is no longer with the University and he didn’t know where you had moved to or if the program has been closed. I went to the main Upward Bound site, but I couldn’t find any information on you. I looked up the phonebook and saw your name listed in Lancaster area. I dialed the numbers immediately hoping to hear your voice. The phone rang four times then someone picked up but slammed right back down. At that moment, I realized that I have lost contact to the person that played an important role in my life.
I don’t know if you knew it or not, but you were someone that got me to where I am today. If it was not for the extraordinary program you ran, I don’t know where or how I would end up. Right from seventh grade, Upward Bound was already prepared me for my future. Those summertime living and studying on Millersville campus were some of the fondest memories of my life.
Your program landed me on all the colleges I have applied and I picked my first choice. After my first semester at La Salle University, I was struggling and wanted to drop out. I came to you asking if I could transfer back to Millersville. You picked up the phone and just like that I got in, but then you also encouraged me to give La Salle one more semester. If I still feel the same, I could always come to Millersville. It was the best advice you had given me. I went back to La Salle and I found what I wanted to do.
In the summer of my sophomore year, I went back to Lancaster and needed a temporary job. I called you up and you put me in charge of the Upward Bound web site. My task was to update the content, but I surprised you with a whole new redesign. You were thrilled and I had my first site for my portfolio. You put me in contact with other departments in Millersville and I began to build up my resume.
I still remember your reaction when I showed you “Vietnam In Memoriam,” my latest motion work at the time. Although you didn’t understand the words, you could feel the emotion from the vocalists accompanying the war-related photos. A couple weeks later, you took me to a conference, which filled with professors, about digital storytelling. The piece moved them and they asked me to explain my intention behind it. It was nerve-wrecking, but at the same time rewarding.
Until this day, I have never once forget the guidance and encouragement you had given me. I have always looked up to you as a role model. What I respect you the most is that as a successful African-American woman, you always embraced diversity. Ms. Cross, if you read this open letter by any chance, please contact me.