My sister really misses the nachos in Rupp Arena.
She misses a lot of other things about UK, too— going to the Johnson Center between classes; making cookies for her friends at my apartment because her dorm doesn’t have its own kitchen; studying in Willy T, even when people around her talk too much.
Today, Ashtyn will take her last final of her freshman year. She’ll most likely take it while sitting in the floor of her childhood bedroom— because her desk chair is broken, and the window seat makes a decent desk.
Over the last two months, we’ve both finished our school year remotely— freshman year for her, senior year for me. We’ve debated who has it worse: Yes, I lost the end of my senior year, but she might miss some of her sophomore year, too.
Hopefully, since UK announced its plans to reopen campus in the fall, that won’t happen, but there’s still the possibility of fan-less sporting events and missing out on other fun UK activities as attempts continue to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But I’m still a little jealous of her, because no matter what happens, she gets to call herself a UK student for three more years. I’m now a UK alumna— a label that I’m incredibly proud to have, but that also makes me sad.
Ashtyn and I have, perhaps, been destined to come to UK since we were children. Since before that, really— since our parents were raised as UK fans, and since our mom graduated from UK Law School in 1996.
Neither our parents nor anyone else ever pressured us to come to UK; we each made our own decision. For me, and I’m sure for her too, it just felt like the natural choice.
I loved my time at UK, and I hope that Ashtyn does, too. It wasn’t an easy year for either of us, even before the whole world fell apart. A lifetime lover of school, I began panicking about the end of college back in September or October. Ashtyn, like many freshman, struggled with the decision to change her major— and I’m so happy that she seems to have now found a major that she loves.
We lost our grandfather in November and our great-grandfather in January— both, of course, lifelong UK fans. Then, just when we were settling into this semester, we and all other students had to leave UK.
It was a hard year. But I’m so thankful that I was at UK, and that my sister was there with me, too. I’m not sure I would’ve made it without her.
What I hope for my sister is that her time at UK gets better and better. That every good moment she had this year— getting free ice cream at Rupp Arena, the triumph of finishing her first finals week in college, signing a lease on an apartment with new friends— will repeat and multiply for her next three years.
I hope, Ashtyn, that you are always proud to be a Wildcat and also that you find ways to make the University of Kentucky an even better place. I hope that the men’s basketball team wins a ninth championship while you’re a student, and that you go to State Street but don’t almost get crushed by a trash can like I did.
If I have any advice, it’s to find your people. It’s a big campus but it feels like home when you have friends and classmates whom you love. Find those people, and I hope, in three years, you get to graduate alongside them.
And one last thing from your older sister: Don’t you ever leave a sporting event before “My Old Kentucky Home” has been played.