Wednesday, September 17, 2014




Revelations: Walk through the door

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Feb. 21, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 20, 2014 at 8:21 p.m.

Jennifer Preyss

I remember years ago, as an incoming freshman at Georgia State University, the fear and nervousness I felt moments before my audition for the music program.

My body was shaking uncontrollably. My knees were quite literally knocking together as I sung my audition-ready Italian arias before a panel of judges.

The audition wasn't my idea. It was put upon me by my mother, who translated my love for singing and songwriting and performing show tunes with my high school show choir into a "she must want to do this full time in college, so I'll coordinate the audition and make sure she shows up," sort of opportunity.

It wasn't my finest hour.

I was so uncertain of committing to the program, and so nervous I would fail and let my mother down, that any musical abilities I had in my soul escaped me that morning.

My voice cracked. The songs I practiced for weeks to perfection were sung out of tune and some parts were forgotten entirely. And I looked visibly nervous.

So the judges did that thing that judges do where they smile politely and say, "All right, thank you for coming," and you walk out of the room knowing your name won't appear on the final list.

And mine didn't.

But unlike other moments in life when I tried and failed, I wasn't too heartbroken about not making it into the program.

It wasn't my dream. I didn't long to be a properly trained and degreed musician.

I just liked to sing and write songs.

I had another path waiting for me that I believe turned out even better than what would have become of me if I'd nailed my audition that morning.

I always remember that audition, even though I failed, as a teaching moment.

I tried. I walked through the door. I was already more successful than about half the other kids my age who wouldn't try at all. I've never forgotten that lesson.

I thought of that audition the other night as I interviewed Victoria students for the livestock show scholarship program.

I was sequestered in a small room, and on 20-minute intervals, students walked through the door and pitched his or her case for why he or she should qualify for the scholarships.

No, they weren't singing or reading music, but they were auditioning.

They were auditioning for their future, as a college and graduate student, as a young individual with dreams for their careers, and their "one day" families.

Some of the students nailed it. Others didn't.

Some of the students I thought looked amazing on paper didn't seem to do as well in person. Others, with less spectacular grades and achievements, clearly shined in their ability to articulate how this scholarship could change their lives.

And others, I could tell, were forced in the room by their parents and had no interest in being there, or defined ambitions for the future.

But it was exciting to be a part of making some of these students' futures possible, especially the few I know do not have the financial resources of other students. I knew a few of the students we selected will truly benefit from a few thousand dollars of free money.

It was those students who made hours of volunteering for livestock scholarships worth it.

They showed up, knees knocking, voices shaking and walked through the door to the judges' room.

They didn't know what awaited them on the other side of the door, or what the outcome would be. But the point is, they tried anyway. They walked through the door.

Jennifer Preyss is the faith editor for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or on Twitter @jenniferpreyss

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