Op-Ed

The North Carolina Governor’s School: A love story

By Kristin Lozoya

A Meredith College student reads in the amphitheater on the school’s campus.
A Meredith College student reads in the amphitheater on the school’s campus. Chris Seward

My Facebook feed has been consumed by friends and colleagues speaking out in disbelief that we must once again defend the N.C. Governor’s School’s existence. Judging by my Facebook feed, this is an open-and-shut case: Keep the Governor’s School. But alas, Facebook can be an echo chamber, so let me reach past my insulated feed and share my story here.

I fell in love three times at Governor’s School East (on the Meredith College Campus). The first time, I was a 17-year-old High School student. I was attending GSE for art. I was a big fish at my high school and thus terrified of being swallowed up by this new bigger pond. “What if I find out I’m not that good?”

Well, I found out I was able to hold my own among the best in the state. And I learned I was more than an art student. I remember attending a seminar on Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” and rushing to convocation so I could be in the front to ask the speaker a question. I couldn’t believe who I was becoming. And I didn’t want this feeling to go away. I was ready for college. I was in love.

The second time, I was 21 years old. I applied to be a teacher’s assistant for the very same art teacher I was taught by four years earlier. I fell in love with teaching that summer. I was intoxicated by the student body’s thirst for learning. I was moved by the students that would never have had this experience if it wasn’t tuition-free. I would daydream of where this experience would lead them academically and professionally. I loved mentoring students one-on-one.

As a resident adviser, I was able to offer counsel to ‘my girls’ and help some of them through feelings of depression and anxiety because they knew my story. I was living proof that “it gets better.” The experience would inspire me to teach at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County for three years.

Lozoya family
Kristin, Oswaldo and Sofie Lozoya

The third time I fell in love at GSE was the following summer. I had just finished college and I was aching for that feeling of community again. I quickly unpacked and went downstairs to the quad to see if any other faculty had arrived. Off in the distance I saw a dear friend standing under a tree. She was a student at GSE when I fell in love with college at the age of 17. She was a fellow TA when I fell in love with teaching the summer prior. And she was standing next to my future husband when I saw her standing under that tree. It was a tree I would sketch under countless times that first summer as a student. Past, present and future came together under that tree.

Oswaldo Lozoya, now my husband of almost eight years, was getting ready to defend his master’s thesis in mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso. He was accepted at UNC and N.C. State’s biomedical engineering Ph.D. program. His love of mathematics and new experiences brought him to that magical tree. In the summer of 2005, Oswaldo and I fell madly in love. We got married in 2009 and had our sweet daughter Sofie in 2011. My husband says that experience as a TA afforded him the opportunity to “see” himself staying in North Carolina after he completed his schooling. Today, my husband is a biomedical researcher in the RTP, where we continue to live. Can you imagine a better and more cost-effective recruitment tool?

So many brilliant people teach at the Governor’s School and choose to stay in the state afterward. The Governor’s School allows them to fall in love with our fine state. And the Governor’s School allows students of all different economic backgrounds with exemplary talents to find out how much this state believes in them. These are bright minds gifted not only in the arts but in STEM disciplines as well. The Governor’s School is absolutely a love story, one that spans over 50 years, thousands of gifted students and tens of thousands of lives touched by those inspired Governor’s School alumni. Save the Governor’s School.

Kristin Lozoya is an autism advocate and shares her experiences raising her neuro-atypical daughter on her blog mylifewith.atypicalbird.com.

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