We listened to the lottery results on my roommate’s radio in his car that night. I got No. 200 and he had over 300. With that number, everything was still up in the air for me–I did not know where I stood. I was then a junior at UNC, Chapel Hill.

In my senior year I got called for my Army physical at Knoxville, Tenn. and I guess everyone passed that. The lady at the draft board in my home county called my Mom and said if I was going to join the service that I should go ahead and do that. So I ended up joining the Navy. I enlisted thinking I would just do 4 years and that would be that.

The Navy decided that since I had majored in English that it would be best to send me to school for Meteorology and Oceanography. I was not sure, but it turned out to be the best decision anyone has ever made for me. I got into computers, learned to program, spent 3 years in Spain, then 4 years in Monterey, Ca. Got out of the Navy after 8 years and went back to work as a civilian computer programmer. Retired after 30 years of a great career.

I was thinking today about what had the most influence on my life…a decision made not by me…and it would have to be the lottery. It changed my life in a huge way, and in the end it was all for the better. The 8 years in the Navy exposed me to experiences that I would never have had and the people I met were super. Sometimes things that look like a bust really do turn out for the best!