Every other week, Under the Moss captures the stories of the wonderful students, faculty, staff and community members roaming the College’s campus. Their stories remind us why we love CofC.
“My parents divorced when I was about eight. I still don’t know exactly why it happened, I mean I kind of have an idea, but I do know that my mom filed for it. Around that same time, my dad moved to Pennsylvania and wanted us to move with him but my mom didn’t want to do that. They kept me pretty sheltered when it happened. If they aren’t around me, they’re still pretty argumentative. They don’t really talk to me about it. Which is nice. But I’m still kind of curious. Actually, I don’t really care. I think they did the right thing for eight year old Reilly.”
Reilly Walker was longboarding around campus on a sunny day; recently, she’s been rolling around Charleston to get a better feel for her new city.
“I feel like going off on my own gives me a deeper appreciation of this city,” says the 18-year-old. “It reminds me that I made the right choice because I enjoy myself just roaming the streets.”
Originally from another coastal town — Stonington, Connecticut — Walker is a student in the Honors College, a member of the Volunteer Corps, Pre-Health Honors Society, the Reach Program and the club lacrosse team on campus. She hopes to one day become a neurologist.
“My mom had to quit her job when she had me,” she says. “She paid for everything and the court told my dad he had to pay for college. But I still push myself because I owe it to her.”
Reilly talked about how her mom never tried to compensate for her father’s absence by taking on both parental roles. Walker lived in a great neighborhood with her best friend whose dad also stepped in.
“Everyone else took me under their wing,” she says. “I was really into sports and my mom was not at all. She would support me at games and stuff but I would play with the boys and their dads on my street.”
One of the boys that helped Walker get involved in sports became her boyfriend of three years, but they briefly broke up at the beginning of college.
“He kind of freaked out over the whole distance thing and he didn’t know how to feel,” she says. “We had only really dated each other. He wanted to try to see other people. And after a few weeks he was like ‘Just kidding.'”
Now, they talk every day and call even if it’s just for a few minutes to hear each other’s voices.
But Walker she says her parents’ divorce has definitely impacted the way she views relationships.
“My mom taught me how to be the bigger, stronger person,” she says. “She would let my dad stay in the house with us when he came to visit even though it was awkward. She understood that the distance was hard enough without adding another stressor.”
Walker clearly gained her strength from her mother. Since she has been here at the College, she has tried to implement the lessons she’s learned into her own relationships.
Her mom, dad, boyfriend, and friends are all over the country, leaving her a little scattered as well. She has discovered that finding what makes her happy alone has made her value those relationships even more.
“Distance is really hard,” she said, “but for the people I care about, the miles don’t matter.”
Lauren Vega is a first-year student from Huntington, West Virginia, studying arts management and international studies in the Honors College at the College of Charleston. She is also a National Merit Scholar, a scholar in the International Studies Program, and a 200-hour registered yoga teacher.