Casse sat on a plane in anticipation of what is almost impossible for many. With her mother by her side, she anx- iously sat through an 18 hour quest in order to attend Tyler Junior College for fall 2008.
“On the plane, I had many thoughts going through my mind. I was more excited than sad to leave South Africa. I kind of like the unknown,” said Casse.
Casse’s decision to leave Durban, South Africa and attend TJC started with re search. She found that Tyler Junior College was one of the top three junior colleges in the United States.
Though Casse’s deci- sion started with in-depth re- searching, the process of actu- ally coming to TJC was not the easiest. Casse had to apply just like everyone else does. She had to obtain an I-20 from TJC which is a document that an international student receives from the college upon acceptance. Casse had to take the I-20 to the
American Embassy with proof of financial stability for the years she would be at- tending college. At that point the Embassy would either ap- prove or deny the visa.
Casse was asked questions such as “Are you returning to South Africa? Why are you going to America and how long will you do this for?” If Casse had been denied, she wouldn’t have been able to fulfill her goal of making it to the U.S.
Fortunately, Casse was not denied. She had jumped through the hoops necessary in order to reach an experience that would change Casse’s life forever.
Her plane had arrived to her destination. She stepped off of the plane and on to the grounds of the United States of America in Washington D.C. She felt a breeze of the indefinite brush against her skin. She had made it but her destination was not yet fulfilled. Casse then had to take another flight to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas. From DFW, along with her mother, Casse rented a car and drove to Tyler, Texas. Once she reached Tyler, her destination had been fulfilled. She was fi- nally here.
“It was a culture shock for me when I got here. Not so much with the people but with the way things are here. The food was different, like for breakfast people were eating pancakes. Back home that is a dessert. It was also more interracial relationships, nothing bad, just more boys and girls of a different race dating each other than I had seen back home,” said Casse.
Casse and her mother stayed in a hotel together for about a week and then the time came for the two to de- part. “When my mom left, I was so emotional. I had never experienced anything like that before but deep down in my heart I knew I’d be seeing her again which helped me come to terms with her leaving.”
Later that day a man working at the hotel willingly drove Casse to TJC. She was there before any of the resi- dents in her hall. “Being in the hall alone felt so lonely,” said Casse.
Fortunately for Casse, the unfamiliar loneliness would soon end. Later that week it was time for all of the residents to move into Hudnall Hall and Casse would now be paired up with a roommate and share a bathroom with two suitemates.
“I was nervous at this point. I didn’t know what to expect. Living with a complete stranger and sharing a bath- room with two more complete strangers was just nerve rack- ing at first,” said Casse.
Time passed and the relationship between Chloe, her roommate and suitemates be- came undeniably lovable, caring and understanding.
“Being Chloe’s roommate was an eye opening experience for me. I learned that just because your different from someone, doesn’t mean that you can’t come to an understanding with them,” said Brittney Tyler, Chloe’s former room- mate. “Chloe and I came from two totally different walks of life and a lot of the time it was very difficult for us to reach an understanding, but at the end of the day we did. Most of all we developed a friendship,” said Tyler.
Through the year Casse developed friendships, learned lessons and a lot about herself.
“Being a first year-stu- dent was a lot of fun because I got the chance to engage in school activities, make friends and enjoy the college life,” said Casse. “I also learned some- thing very valuable from liv- ing here at TJC. I learned that when put in a situation that your not used to, you have to learn to adapt. Choosing to adapt made life here that much better,” said Casse.
Casse’s decision to adapt really became evident when she was chosen to be the R.A. of Hudnall Hall her sopho- more year at TJC.
“I applied to be an R.A because I got along so well with the other residents. I’m a people person and I knew it would be a great way for me to meet many more people,” said Casse. “When I was ac- tually chosen, I was so excited about being an R.A. I could now put together programs for residents to come to and get to know each other, giving some- one who is in a situation like mine the opportunity to make new friends.”
“Chloe was an amazing R.A. She followed all of the rules but still tried her best to make sure that all of the residents were having a good time,” said Jessica Stephens, former Hudnall Hall resident. “I could just tell that she was the perfect person for the job. It was like she understood where all of us were in our lives and tried to make that some- times uncomfortable place as comfortable as she could,” said Stephens.
Following the semester of being an R.A, Casse was soon chosen to be an R.D. of Hudnall Hall. She was placed in a room with a stove, bathroom, living room and bedroom all to herself. Casse had become Ms. Independent in a matter of two years, with a positive attitude and hope.
“To those who are considering taking big steps that you know could change your life in a drastic way, go in fully focused and don’t be afraid to follow your heart because God has a plan for you and you’ll always know when the time is right,” said Casse.