News from the Aurora University community

Storytellers project captures AU history and legacy

Posted by on January 19, 2012

By Audrey Axemaker Howe, AU ’67

When I first heard of the AU Storytellers project — an effort to capture the history of the university through videotaped interviews with alumni from across the nation — I thought it sounded like a good idea, but that my experience wasn’t important enough to participate. What could I add to what other graduates had already contributed that was worthy of being added to the university’s archives?

But as time passed, and after visiting campus in the fall, I realized that the success of the project depends on including as many alumni as possible, and I didn’t want to be left out. I am still a part of Aurora College, and it still is a part of me.

In my interview, I shared a picture that was taken during the week of graduation in 1967. My parents had driven from Oregon to be there as their first child graduated from college. Also visiting the campus that weekend was Col. Harland Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken. I had been a recipient of grant funds that Sanders gave to the college. He also donated the carillon bells that had been recently installed to play that weekend.

I not only was appreciative of the financial assistance Sanders provided, but I also felt honored to meet him. I have often bragged about my relationship with him, and have shared the picture of the two of us at graduation with many through the years. I still think of him occasionally when our family makes a visit to a KFC, and I contain myself when I get the urge to tell strangers that I once knew Col. Harland Sanders.

During the interview, I also gave a good description of what it was like living in the residence halls in the late ‘60s by sharing a poem about dorm rules that was presented to the incoming female students. Back then, no men were allowed on the floors that housed our rooms, except during certain evening hours. We had to sign in every evening and, if you were late, you would receive a “campus” for the following Saturday night, which meant you couldn’t leave the dorm. Though strict, these rules provided security, a continuation of similar guidance we had in our parents’ homes.

I also recalled, when I lived on the third floor of Memorial Hall, hearing pebbles hitting the window. I would lower a basket out the window and my male friends, who didn’t have the same hours, would put in food from Bob’s Hamburgers for us to enjoy.

Through the Storytellers project, I realized that my story is unique — as is the story of each of my fellow graduates. Through our stories and our support, we can continue to make an impact on the future and mission of Aurora University.

Watch this video on YouTube.

To watch alumni interviews and participate in the project, visit aurora.edu/storytellers, or contact Alumni Relations at 630-844-5482 or alumni@aurora.edu.