Interview & Introduction by Isabella Acitelli, FSU ‘21
The years we spend in college are some of the most turbulent, thrilling, and formative years in our youth, and they allow us to establish who we are as individuals. At KYLE CAVAN, we recognize the uniqueness of this time in each of our lives and celebrate how these years serve us as we move forward in our journeys. From late-nights of studying (or lack thereof), to tailgating on game day, there is so much value in our collegiate years. One of our represented schools includes
Auburn University is a Southern gem with a rich history at its roots. Auburn is founded on the principle of togetherness. This camaraderie can be seen through their electric school pride and the alumni that have been defined by their time at the university. We spoke with Gerilyn Kim, Auburn '93, who wears her time as a Tiger proudly.
Gerilyn Kim, Auburn '93
KYLE CAVAN (KC): Auburn is one of the most notable and iconic Southern universities in the country. How did you decide on Auburn? Was this the school you saw yourself at?
Gerilyn Kim (GK): My experience is a bit unique. Auburn is my hometown, and I never wanted to go anywhere else because I loved it. It did make cutting class a bit awkward, though, because many of my professors were the parents/grandparents of childhood friends. One of my history professors (who was a friend’s grandfather) expressed concern that I had missed some classes one day. I told him I had the flu. I did not have the flu. He was so kind and empathetic that I still feel guilty about lying to this day!
KC: What were your favorite places on campuses? Restaurants, bars, study spots, etc
Do any of them exist today?
GK: My favorite places on campus were Langdon Hall, where they screened free movies (that’s where I first saw “Purple Rain”), the green space in front of Samford Hall, and the walkway near Haley Center where students gathered to talk/play frisbee/layout between classes. Also, the aviary for Auburn’s golden eagle mascot was near Haley Center at that time.
My favorite restaurant was Ryan’s Tavern, as it was for most students. It’s where I worked, and no, it wasn’t like today’s Ryan’s buffet/steakhouse. It was also home to the famous Party Goose Punch and all you can eat Wing Night. On football Saturdays, it was slammed beyond belief. The waitlist was more than ten pages long. People would wait for hours for a table and just party in the parking lot until their names were called. My other favorite restaurants were Greeley’s and the Hungry Hunter (upscale and had a dance floor). My favorite bars were Waldo Pepper’s, Denaro’s, Darnell’s (Skybar is there now), and Harry’s (favorite dive bar).
The most iconic bar and a favorite for everyone were the War Eagle Supper Club. They could stay open far later than any other bars because the building was just barely outside the city limits. The Supper Club had all the best bands. To be allowed to serve alcohol, they had to be designated a “club,” so you had to sign a membership card to get in the first time and show it for admittance every time after. I wish I still had mine; I have friends who saved their cards. The Supper Club bought an old school bus and converted into the “Slush Bus” so they could drive students home who had been drinking, and they stopped at all the student housing complexes. I may have been more familiar with that bus than I should have been. Unfortunately, none of the bars/restaurants exist today, but my favorite campus spots remain!
KC: What’s a memory that stands out to you during your time at Auburn?
GK: It would have to be the time Auburn finally got to play the Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium and won for the first time in ten years. There was a massive party at Toomer’s Corner that included everyone in town, along with students. National TV cameras were on the roof of Toomer’s Drug store filming everything. Someone tried to drive a VW bug through the crowd. Several people just picked up the car and turned it back around.
KC: What was your cliché coming of age moment at school?
GK: It was probably the day the Challenger shuttle blew up. I met my brother for an early lunch at my parent’s house that day between classes. We watched the launch and were shocked to see it explode. I didn’t return to classes that day, and we just stared blankly at news coverage for the rest of the day. It made me realize we’re not invincible, as you so often believe when you are young.
KC: Do you think your time at Auburn made a lasting impact on you as an individual? How?
GK: Absolutely, because I received an education beyond the classroom that was invaluable. Meeting students from all over the country and the world who had tremendously varied backgrounds gave me an appreciation for the wider world and all it has to offer.
Additionally, after receiving my first degree in English, I returned to Auburn ten years later to obtain my B.S. in Wildlife Science. This allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming an informal educator at a zoo and, through that job, give back to the world in some small way.
KC: How do you stay engaged with Auburn as an alumnus?
GK: We moved back to Auburn a few years ago, so we’re engaged with the community and the university. I’ve volunteered at the university’s Natural History Museum and the Southeastern Raptor Center.
KC: Describe your Auburn pride in three words.
GK: Auburn is family.
KC: What are your favorite Auburn traditions?
GK: Rolling Toomer’s Corner after a win, Hey Day, getting fresh-squeezed lemonade at Toomer’s, tailgating, and Tiger Walk!
We’d like to thank Gerilyn Kim for sharing her story and experience. We proudly represent Auburn University as one of our schools, so be sure to take a peek at our Auburn Collection!