A mother reclaimed her college days when her daughter was assigned her same dorm room at her alma mater — 33 years later.
In July, incoming freshman Sarah Bowling received her dormitory assignment in Emerson Hall at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Sarah was away at camp at the time, so her mom Laura Everett Bowling texted her daughter’s roommate’s mom to ask where their girls had landed.
“I said, ‘Are you kidding me — this was my exact room,” Laura, 51, tells TODAY.com. She asked that TODAY.com not publish the room number to protect her daughter’s privacy.
In August 1990, Laura was assigned the same room as a freshman student at Miami University, where she majored in marketing. Laura felt she was destined to attend the school, just like her older brother.
Laura says that when she first visited the campus, she took one look at the red brick buildings and idyllic scenery and her future was sealed. Laura later applied to Miami University — and nowhere else — with an Early Decision plan and was accepted.
While raising her two children in Cincinnati, Laura drove them to Miami University for swim competitions and Sarah’s figure skating lessons. “We’d spend the whole day there and I’d take them to my favorite restaurant,” says Laura.
One haunt was Skipper’s Pub & Top Deck, where Laura worked as a waitress and met her husband Erik (Sarah’s father) when he was a customer, visiting from Clemson University. After dating, they got engaged when Laura was a senior.
She hoped at least one of her kids would attend her beloved university and maybe even room in the South Quad. Indeed, Sarah applied Early Decision to the school without a backup plan — and got in.
Laura never figured that Sarah would inhabit her dorm room, where she hung a risqué poster of Lorenzo Lamas, fashioned milk crates into storage containers and gathered with friends to exercise with aerobics cassettes.
“People have said that this wasn’t random, but I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen it because it’s pretty small,” says Laura.
The pairing was random — and very unlikely.
“Tossing a coin and getting 10 heads in a row has a similar 0.1% or 1 in a 1000 chance of occurring; Being audited by the IRS has a greater chance,” John Bailer, a professor emeritus in the Department of Statistics at Miami University, tells TODAY.com.
“In sports terms, a 0.1% chance corresponds to a baseball player with a 300-batting average having six consecutive hits or a 90% free-throw shooter making 65 free-throws in a row,” adds Bailer.
Laura moved Sarah into her dorm last month.
“Walking in, the memories hit me like a tidal wave,” says Laura. “There was the window with a big ledge where my friends and I sat and the furniture was in the same position, though the desk and bed are longer. The floors and ceiling are the same.”
Sarah, 18, tells TODAY.com that her mom was “a kid in a candy store” that day.
“My first thought was that the room is tiny,” says Sarah. “Then I saw how excited my mom was and I thought, ‘It’s cozy and it’s going to be awesome.”
The teen gave the room a modern upgrade: Her Macbook and iPad replaced Laura’s old word processor and instead of teen idol posters, Sarah hung an American flag and her baseball hat collection. An espresso machine stands in place of milk cartons.
Sarah says bunking in her mom’s old room is comforting.
“If I’m homesick, I’ll remember that my mom was once here and she turned out great,” says Sarah. “These are the best years of my life and I get to share that with my mom.”