Knock. Knock. Knock. It’s 5:30 a.m., and Rosemary’s mom enters her room to wake her up for school.

Thump. Thump. Thump. Rosemary’s grandmother, Rosie, is making her way down the hall with her cane to help Rosemary’s single mother get her brother, who suffers from Down Syndrome, ready for school.

“I can’t wait to move out,” Rosemary thought.

Drip. Drip. Drip. The kitchen sink in her family’s mobile home makes a steady beat as 17-year-old Rosemary gathers her things to catch the bus for school.

Fast forward three years later, and Rosemary Horton is now in her second semester as a junior Integrated Marketing Communications major at the University of West Alabama. She did not plan on staying at UWA long but “life happened,” and she made the best out of her already difficult situation.

“I wanted to go to a bigger school, one farther away from home,” said Horton, a lifelong Eutaw resident and 2014 graduate of Green County High School. When her mother broke her foot, forcing her to take off from work, money grew tight. Horton’s grandmother, Rosie, also had to move in with Horton’s family around the same time because her house burned down.

“I always had to help out with my brother, but it got really hard when my mom got hurt and grandmother moved in because I was having to juggle my school assignments and apply for college, all while helping out twice as much at home” said Horton.

Horton’s mother convinced her to apply to UWA, so she could stay close to home to help with the family. She told herself that after her freshman year, she would transfer to her dream school, Alabama State University.

With a desire to work with computers, Horton started out majoring in Information Technology but soon realized that it was not for her. She discovered the Integrated Marketing Communications program and fell in love with web design.

Horton gives tribute to UWA’s small-town atmosphere, the IMC program, caring faculty and multicultural student body for influencing her to stick around.

“I didn’t believe it when people told me that my professors would remember my name,” she said. Horton added that her professors genuinely care about her success, both in the classroom and in her future career.

Horton also fell in love with the diverse student body at UWA. Growing up and graduating high school with mostly other African-American students, Horton feels that the student population at UWA has broadened her cultural knowledge by being around people from not only different races, but also different countries, traditions, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Even though the University of West Alabama is a small school, it has really opened my eyes and changed my perspective on the world,” said Horton.

Horton has gone from being in the color guard in UWA’s Scarlet Marching Band, to being a Resident Assistant at Stickney Hall. She is also a member of Blue Key Honor Society and the Advertising and Promotions Coordinator for UWA’s student-run sports magazine, ZONE.

“I didn’t think I would like it here at first, but I am so glad that I chose to stay. UWA is my home and has awarded me so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have elsewhere. I couldn’t see myself graduating from any other university,” said Horton.

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