After high school, I spent several years taking classes at Yavapai College, a short distance from my hometown of Chino Valley, Ariz., hoping to eventually go to a university and getting a journalism degree. Life didn’t quite work out as planned, but I’m in the career I originally aspired to be in.
It had been a long time since I’d set foot at Yavapai College, and I was interested in seeing if anything had changed. I’d been looking at the school’s performing arts website and saw there was a lot more use of the auditorium, not only with college performing arts programs but with bringing in national acts and more.
A lot more than the auditorium has changed, and that was immediately evident as my rented yellow Kia Rio with the California license plates rolled onto the campus. Old routes to them main complex and the dormitories, as I remembered them, were no longer there. In fact, there were some more buildings than there were 20 years ago.
I decided I would start by looking around the performing arts center. The college had started a sculpture garden during the time I was there. Initially, there were a few sculptures that were okay. The garden has improved since then, including an awesome fountain with water cascading down rectangular pillars. There are more paths, more sculptures that were complex and extremely creative. There was also a viewing patio with a number of colored tables and chairs. A very relaxing and serene area, but I was very surprised there weren’t more students using it for study.
After finding my inner child in the sculpture garden, I dragged him out kicking and screaming to check out the main complex. When I started college more than 20 years ago, there were four main buildings, all gray and stony. Building 1 was the registration offices, bookstore, student union and student life office. Building 2 housed the gymnasium, art classes, nursing classes, philosophy classes and more. Building 3 had more classrooms, along with the library and the learning center upstairs. Building 4 was even more classrooms, although I hardly ever had any there.
Not so anymore. The student union got moved to Building 3, which moved the library and computer lab to a new building, Building 18 (Don’t ask me to explain Yavapai’s building numbering system). There were other new buildings as well. I thought for a moment that maybe I’d been transported in the middle of the night to some parallel universe.
Not only were the buildings different in what they offered, they were different in the way they looked, as well. Like I said, they were gray and stony. Somehow, since I’d last set foot on the campus in 2000, the buildings got facelifts. The gray color was less evident, with shades of blue, red and other colors making the buildings look less like block monstrosities.
As if that wasn’t enough, the shapes of the buildings were different, as well, with rounded contours on Building 4 and other places. Where neverending stairs used to be, there exists slightly angled walkways where someone in a wheelchair could actually proceed from building to building without having to circumnavigate the campus. Where a convoluted wheelchair ramp used to be was a green grassy area, which is not easy to have in the desert heat of Arizona. In fact, there were flowers and more everywhere.
I’d returned to Yavapai College looking for an opportunity to rekindle some memories and check out where some subtle changes had taken place. Instead, I returned to find the days of yesteryear covered in pretty flowers and dazzling colors. I’m not sure what to make of the futuristic campus, which does look nice; I just hope today’s students don’t return in 15-20 years and find the place where they pursued higher education has been given a tummy tuck and eyebrow lift.