Julie Katz, a JWU mother, writes about her daughter Alyssa's emotional journey from Ohio to JWU Providence.
My husband and I knew Johnson & Wales was the right place for our daughter Alyssa to pursue a degree in Culinary Nutrition but she needed to decide for herself. After two consecutive snow days hanging out on the JWU accepted students’ Facebook page, she decided to enroll on her own.
Even though we knew in our hearts JWU was a perfect fit for Alyssa, having a daughter attend a college ten hours from our home in Ohio was difficult for all of us. Alyssa had gone to overnight camp for a month and school trips, but she was still, at heart, the same kid who cried at kindergarten orientation. Having grandparents in Boston helped, but it wasn’t the same.
Freshman orientation helped ease our minds. We were really impressed with the professionalism and compassion of the faculty and staff. Both my husband and I knew JWU cared about Alyssa’s intellectual and emotional well-being.
Alyssa woke up the morning we were driving to Providence and started crying while telling my husband she would miss us. That made him cry too! With the car packed to the gills (except for the last minute forgotten underwear) we were off.
Move in could not have been smoother, despite the 90-degree heat. We stayed until lunchtime. Saying good bye, however, brought more tears. It was hard to leave but we knew we had to do so. We did quick hugs and kisses and left.
Everything seemed okay until classes began and the stress of being in college finally hit her. We started receiving tearful phone calls. When I told my parents that Alyssa had called us crying, they offered to rush to Providence from Boston. We knew Alyssa was just sad, not in danger and we told them no. She had to work this out for herself and develop the skills to adjust.
When the crying continued for a few weeks we encouraged her to reach out to Counseling Services. At orientation, parents were encouraged to have our children seek help before they were in a crisis. We emphasized to Alyssa that it was perfectly normal to feel this way and counseling can only help.
Reaching out for help made all the difference. Her counselor urged her to be involved and busy. The tearful phone calls slowed to a trickle and then stopped. She still called us daily as a freshman, but the reassurance helped her.
Now Alyssa has finished her junior year. She has chosen to take summer jobs in New York City and Boston and is only home a few times a year. We are now the ones asking her to call us! She says she is so busy and calls us late at night.
I am so proud of Alyssa. Between choosing a college that was a great fit, and taking advantage of the services and programs available to her at JWU, she has flourished.