I grew up in the Smoketown neighborhood of Louisville where my dad (and grandfather before him) ran a small family grocery. Our whole family of five always cheered for our Louisville Cardinals. Following multiple robberies at our grocery store, including one very frightening armed confrontation Dad decided to close the grocery. The final business day for FA Curran Grocery and Meats was Derby Day 1973 the very day Secretariat set the Derby and track record both of which still stand today. That same month, I graduated from Atherton and was all set to attend Morehead State the following fall. However, my desire to immediately earn a little pocket money caused me to sit out a year while I worked at a local wholesaler. The following year I did set off to Morehead where I made good marks and regularly made the Dean’s List. After two years there, I decided to transfer to Louisville where I could work while living at home to reduce costs and also worked full time to help defray expenses and also have a life. To be honest, UofL didn’t have much of a campus life back in the ’70s. Most students commuted to class and left immediately afterwards to go to work. It is of course an entirely different campus today. Belknap Campus now a vibrant hub of college life. The limited college scene didn’t much bother me then. I was there to get an education and I found the curriculum to be more challenging than I had experienced at Morehead which was also a contributing factor in my decision to transfer to UofL. Being back in my hometown with old friends and new ones from work my social life was anything but lacking. We attended UofL football and basketball games regularly. I remember students could attend basketball games for free and could bring a guest for a mere $2 and the Freedom Hall seats were excellent. Football games were also free for students and the public could get free or deeply discounted coupons at Convenient Food Mart. Similar to campus life, athletics is now a totally different story with the meteoric rise of all programs and the admission to the ACC. I continued to earn good grades and graduated in 1980 with a 3.4 GPA. I took Dr. Paul Weber’s LSAT prep class and did well enough to earn a full 3-year scholarship to Chase College of Law at NKU. While at UofL my favorite professor had to be Dr. Phil Laemmle (famous for his “biscuit speech”). Prior to UofL I’d say my greatest lesson was learning from my dad how to deal with the public in a retail sales setting, and how to manage costs, reduce waste, and run an efficient small business. Because I worked in the grocery every day I wasn’t free to participate in any sports, clubs or activities while in high school although I did write poems for Atherton’s literary magazine and even won 2nd place my senior year for my submission of The Grasshopper. LOL. I was the youngest of three children in our family and all three of us comprised the first generation in our family to attend college. Higher education was arguably more affordable in the ’70s but it was still expensive – especially for a family of very, very modest means. I don’t know how my parents managed to do it but all three of us have earned multiple degrees. One earned her masters in education, while the two boys both completed law school, and my brother went on to get a masters in Public Administration from Harvard – all of this with very little student loan debt. My advice for any other kids seeking to become the first college graduate in their family would be to first assess what they wish to become. What career are they seeking? What work will satisfy their passions and be rewarding not just financially but also be meaningful and in keeping with their own personal values. Maybe they like working with their hands and are good at carpentry or other trade. If so, college may not be the means to that end. Yet, if their aspirations are higher then obtaining a business or accounting degree might set them on a course to being the owner of a plumbing or electrical company with fleets of service vehicles and dozens of well-paid employees. Start with the goal in mind and work backwards from there to chart a course. Seek counsel from those who are already successfully doing the very thing that stirs your soul. People, especially Cardinal people, are notoriously generous in extending advice and assistance. Reach out to the Alumni Association; network with them and build a pipeline of referrals. These relationships will likely prove to be of great value following graduation, or even prior to that with possible opportunities to intern in your chosen field.
What makes me extraordinary? I never really ever considered the question. Many might say I have a quick wit and keen sense of humor, but for me it’s my ability to bite my tongue when an obnoxious uk fans start jabbering on about “forty and 0” or whatever it is they jabber about. I try not to listen.