“Education is the best provision for life’s journey.” – Aristotle

“A man’s mind, stretched by new ideas, may never return to its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

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What I am about to write seems like “fake news” to me, but it is the absolute truth: My niece, Bailey Elizabeth Cook, is now a college sophomore.

Seems like only a few weeks ago she was in kindergarten.

Holy moly. Time passes with too great a pace.

So, Bailey not only survived her freshman year at Rhodes College in Memphis. She thrived.

She made new friends, discovered a whole list of Memphis eateries she now calls her favorites, and studied and made remarkable grades.

When I asked her to tell me her favorite thing about college, this was her answer: “This is going to sound so nerdy, but tbh (to be honest), I love being able to take all these cool classes that are interesting to me as opposed to high school or middle school or elementary school when you have to follow a specific curriculum that isn’t tailored to the individual.”

I told her before she started her freshman year that she should not cut class often, but if her stress level ever skyrocketed, she should consider taking a day off and visiting the Memphis Zoo, just across the street from campus.

She told me she’d failed to follow my advice. She went to the zoo only once during the school year and it was with a class.

Lots of folks have asked me about Bailey’s academic major. And I always have to tell them I’ll get back to them.

It’s not that Bailey’s changed her mind a lot, which would be fine and quite normal. It’s just a lot to remember.

Her major, going into her sophomore year, is Greek and Roman Studies, with some kind of bridge with archaeology. She has a double minor of Gender and Sexuality Studies and Religious Studies.

I’m telling you right now, this niece of mine is much smarter than I am.

I mean, my favorite class my freshman year was American literature; Bailey’s was a class about ancient Persia.

She also worked during the year as department assistant for Greek and Roman Studies. That’s where she heard about a possible opportunity to study abroad this summer.

Bailey, the introvert her mother and I worried about going off to college, spoke with her professor, applied for the opportunity and was accepted.

She will be spending part of June and July on the island of Crete in Greece working to “clean” an archaeological site that was excavated in the early 1900s.

Bailey told me some other things they’ll be doing at the site, but I don’t understand enough to try to explain to others.

There will be daily lectures, on Saturdays they will lead tours and on Sundays, Bailey said they are free to sleep, do touristy things and visit the beach, “which is literally right outside the door of our hotel.”

May I confess to a little bit of envy?

The only studying abroad I did in my college years was living off campus and taking tennis to fulfill my physical education requirements at Mississippi College one summer.

I traveled from Jackson to Clinton. Somehow it’s just not the same as going to Greece.

Greater than my envy, however, is my pride in Bailey.

And my excitement at what her sophomore year will bring.

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