“Geaux…I mean, Roll Tide!”

Louisiana Girl Chooses a Crimson Way of Life and Cheerfully Handles the Hometown Heat

In recent years, the number of out-of-state students attending the University of Alabama has rapidly increased. Of the 38,103 undergraduate, professional, and graduate students enrolled at UA in the fall semester of 2019, 56.5 percent were out-of-state students.

While these students are now proud to call Bama their home, for some, their road to Roll Tide was not an easy one. For many new out-of-state students, the transition to Bama can be an exciting but difficult time. All at once you’re expected to juggle taking new classes, meeting new people, living away from home, dealing with roommates, navigating around a large campus, and so much more.

However, for some out-of-state students, including UA junior Sarah Chenevert, the challenges associated with going to college in a different state begin long before they even set foot on campus.

Photo of Sarah Chenevert

UA junior Sarah Chenevert

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Sarah, an Honors College student from Louisiana, who has faced the challenges of being an out-of-state student firsthand. After growing up in a family of “die hard LSU fans”, Sarah’s choice to attend the University of Alabama came as quite a shock to her friends and family. While UA’s beautiful campus and impressive scholarships had won Sarah over, her friends and family had a difficult time understanding and accepting her decision. When her decision to attend UA was announced at her high school graduation ceremony, Sarah’s classmates were stunned. While the majority of her graduating class had chosen to attend LSU, Sarah had instead chosen to go to Bama, one of LSU’s biggest rivals.

Even though three years have passed, Sarah’s family and friends still love giving her a hard time about her choice to go to Bama. Due to the intense rivalry between UA and LSU, things tend to get a little playfully heated anytime Sarah goes home during football season. According to Sarah, dealing with “smack talk” and being referred to as “Bama Girl” have now become common occurrences for her. Even though her decision to attend Bama has made her a “whole different person in everyone’s eyes”, she couldn’t be prouder to call UA home. Sarah considers herself to be “loud and proud Alabama” and never misses the chance to show her school spirit. Even while in Tiger territory, Sarah proudly wears her Bama shirts and loves showing off the many Alabama stickers that decorate her car.

When asked if she was happy that she chose to come to Bama instead of going to LSU, Sarah replied, “One hundred percent, I’m so glad! I love Alabama so much because it’s such a mixing pot of people from all over the place!” However, Sarah did admit that early on she had some concerns about attending college in a state that is often negatively stereotyped in terms of poverty, education, and race relations. While this was a concern early on, Sarah soon came to find that UA was an incredibly accepting community: “it’s the complete opposite of the stigmatism that I’ve always heard”.

Reflecting on her journey from LSU fan to Bama student, Sarah said, “I always thought that LSU fans were like loud, proud, ‘Geaux Tigers!’; and all that craziness, but nothing compares to Alabama’s ‘Roll Tide’…it’s part of everything…it’s in every conversation we have”.

Current UA students and alumni know that this sense of community is now stronger than ever and while the decision to come to Alabama may not have been an easy one for Sarah, her journey illustrates that the Roll Tide spirit transcends well-beyond the Alabama state lines. Even though everyone’s journey is unique, Sarah certainly isn’t alone in her experience when it comes to dealing with the struggles that are associated with attending college out-of-state. However, no matter whether you are an out-of-state student or an Alabama resident, the University of Alabama makes Tuscaloosa feel like a home away from home.