Share Your Story
Browse personal recollections and stories from the past 50 years of FAU.

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May Growing up in Boca Raton, I wasn't too excited about going to FAU as the campus was something I always drove by and saw. Both my grandfather ('70) and aunt ('75) went to FAU, and from the experiences that they had it seemed as if FAU was just another small commuter college. The moment I started dual enrollment in high school at PBCC, I was just beyond thrilled when I saw all the exciting opportunities FAU offered and that my major, MultiMedia Journalism, was offered. Once an official college student, I wasn't sure why somebody wouldn't want to attend FAU...where else could one obtain a degree in the midst of various media outlets and enjoy the beach just minutes away? Only FAU can pride itself on that!

When I started at FAU, getting involved in student organizations was something I was hesitant to do as I had my whole life with friends already established. FAU's Greek Life really stood out to me as it was such a small community yet involved in everything on campus. If I had not joined my sorority, I'm pretty sure I would have had the same college experience as those who just stay commuter students and don't get involved. The activities and events that I participated in at FAU from freshman move-in day to the drives to Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale for football games are memories I treasure dear to my heart.

As an alumna of FAU, I'm still active in the FAU community, attending sporting events and this past season being one of the very few FAU fans to travel out to see the Texas Longhorns play the Owls. I really enjoy taking frequent bike rides through campus to see the construction of the stadium!

Through other Owl alums, I met my current boyfriend of three years who was returning from 8 years of active duty with the U.S. Army. FAU is one of the only universities that provides help to our soldiers overseas who are preparing to attend college by understanding that they are in Iraq or Afghanistan serving our country and they might not be in communication for weeks on end. He still attends FAU and is going to be starting his master's degree next year. May

I can tell you that I take pride in the FAU sticker on my car and get the occasional honk and "Go Owls" sign flashed to me on the road.

As activities on campus, Greek life and applications to attend FAU all expand, I can look back at my college years and know that I made the right choice in picking a college that had so much potential compared to just being another number at any other Florida college. GO OWLS! You are making your alum so proud of you! HOOT HOOT!

Tonya May '08



Botany and the FAU Preserve

I have fond memories of the botany courses I took when I returned to school while raising my family. The labs and field courses were particularly memorable. There were labs in the greenhouse that used to be just outside the Life Sciences building - a very hot greenhouse where we conducted hydroponics experiments. I even overheated some seeds from the highly invasive melaleuca tree and rendered them sterile - and all by accident!

The 5th floor of the old Bio building housed the FAU Herbarium - lots of plant specimens from around the world, some from the student's collections and managed by grad students for botany guru, Dr. Dan Austin. I bet there are some good old photos floating around somewhere. And we gathered at 6:15 a.m. at FAU to carpool for field trips to fun places like Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park where we slogged through the swamps!

Then there is the FAU Preserve - a wild wonder just across the parking lot. It was amazing to meander through the trails, see the complexity of the different plant communities and the gentle changes in topography that differentiated sand pine scrub from oak hammock and wet prairie. It was amazing to see the diverse vegetation - both native endemic species and pesty invasive exotics. We learned what was edible (cactus fruit, shiny blueberry), what to avoid (stinging nettle) and the taxonomic relations of the various species. Of course, the wildlife was another unique aspect of the preserve. Gopher tortoises were abundant - one of the densest populations in Florida in the mid 1990s. A few dozen remain from the hundreds that once left trails along the edge of the Preserve. Numerous flags marked research studies of various graduate students, particularly along what had once been an old runway from the 1940s airfield. One grad student swore that the gopher tortoises purposely dug their burrows under the spiny hog plum and saw palmettos.

The FAU Preserve has persisted despite years of drought, drainage, and development, but it is responding nicely to a little TLC. The once abundant invasive plants like Brazilian pepper and earleaf acacia trees were removed as part of the mitigation for the stadium. Faculty and student volunteers pull out unwanted seedlings, then plant native plants and a butterfly garden. Though one-third smaller in size, it's refreshing to see that the Preserve remains as a teaching tool for current and next generations, and a wilderness island for local wildlife. The SEEDS Ecology group has successfully established new trails through the Preserve and shares this gem with younger students during the spring Bio-Blitz. They do geo-caching with a GPS, find crawling insects in the leafy duff, and use a hand trowel to imitate a gopher tortoise (GT) digging its burrow. The existing burrows of the GT and burrowing owl (the university mascot) provide homes for many other critters. The mighty live oaks have gotten mightier - offering umbrella-like shade on a hot day, and the rare prickly pear cactus still bear the threads of the dye-forming cochineal insect. The seasonal aromas are unique -there's the minty penny royal, the musky pawpaw and aromatic red bay. Uses of various plants are passed down to the next generation of students. Lots of cool finds there and a surprising level of diversity remains. Visiting the preserve is like visiting an old friend – it may have a new porch but the house and live elements are still there. I hope campus dwellers and visitors alike will check it out. Enter the log-lined trail from across the Education Building parking lot or from north of the stadium. Sit quietly on one of the benches made by FAU students from an Aldo Leopold design and just look around. Take in a little of the calm that nature has to offer in the midst of our hectic lives and celebrate the FAU Preserve!

Chris Lockhart, MS '95



I graduated from Connecticut College in 1971 with a degree in history, then moved to Florida and decided I wanted to teach. I earned a second bachelor's degree in English Education at FAU, attending fall 1973, having a baby over winter break, student teaching in the spring of 1974, and graduating that summer. I couldn't get a teaching job, but later, while working as a social worker, I earned a master's degree in English from FAU in 1979. I began doctoral work in English at the University of Miami, and I taught high school history and English for several years in the Broward schools, earning the Ph.D. in English in 1993, a time when it was almost impossible to get a college job in the liberal arts. I had adjuncted English methods for the FAU College of Education, and was pleased to be offered a one-year appointment in Teacher Education 1993-1994 . They searched the position that year, and I was appointed on the tenure track, earning tenure and promotion in 1999 and promotion to professor in 2004. My first semester on the visiting line, December 1993, that baby, Bartholomew Fritzer Bland, graduated from FAU with a bachelor's degree in history. He went on to earn a master's in museum studies from George Washington University and a master's degree in history from Hunter College. He is currently Director of Curatorial Affairs. So FAU has been very good to our family!

Penelope Fritzer '74, '79




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