Suburban Girl Goes to an HBCU
When I came to Hampton University, I feared I wouldn’t find my niche. There was never a point in my educational career that I was a part of the majority. All through my life I attended a predominantly White school. In my advance classes I was often the only Black student. I rarely had teachers or principals that looked like me. Coming to HU, I thought I would be the misfit because of my suburban background. Nevertheless, I found out that like myself many Hamptonians came from White suburbs.
Being a suburban girl at a HBCU has its ups and downs. Many times I feel empowered by my peers and professors to deepen my educational experience. Conversely, I can be angered when I learn new elements of my history. There then are always the questions from people make home of why I decided to attend a HBCU. When I came to HU there weren’t many people to pour wisdom into me. I have decided to give you a couple lessons I have learned while attending a HBCU.
1.You have been lied to- Your history teachers have not been giving you the full picture. History doesn’t start with slaves coming to America. America wasn’t established by Whites. There are many elements of history that will sadden you and often times make you proud to be Black. Additionally, while attending a HBCU you are watching history unfold. Some of my professors have made remarkable strides in improving the lives of Blacks. For the first in my educational career, the majority of my professors are Black. Meaning the myth that there aren’t any Black educators is simply false. Having a HBCU education has allowed me to want to learn for myself and discover the real truth.
2.You must fight for what you want- When I first got to campus, I soon realized that everyone was coming in with the same accomplishments. The majority of my class was a part of student government or National Honor Society. Quickly, I had to discover what makes me different and what I wanted out of my college experience. Everyone in my journalism class were applying to the same internships. Ultimately, this helped me mature professionally. I soon understood the definition of grit. My drive increased tremendously and I now make sure I am taking the right avenues to accomplish my goals.
3.You’re no longer the poster child for Black America- One of the best parts about attending a HBCU, was now being the majority. No longer when discussing race relations, everyone awkwardly looks at me waiting for a response. Now I am in class with students who look like me but have a different thought process. No longer am I obligated to give a cookie cutter answer dealing with race relations. My peers and professors challenge me to look at situations with another lens. Attending class with other young Black intellect is a powerful and beautiful feeling.
4.Your purpose just became bigger- Often times our professors remind us that we fortunate to be able to attend Hampton University. They then challenge us to give back to our own community. Understanding the importance of servitude, has widen my purpose further. I am not just at school to gain fortune and fame for my family. Conversely, it’s my duty to educate others so they have the same opportunity as me. Each day I am tasked with using my profession to better the lives of others.
5.Your decision to attend a HBCU still confuses some- Still to this day many of my friends, mentors, and high school teachers ask why I attended a HBCU. They simply can’t understand why I would spend more money to attend a HBCU. Little do they know there are endless opportunities for HBCU students. Moreover, instead of focusing on the differences between PWIs and HBCUs we should strive to bridge the gap. If both parties worked to solve social injustices together, the world might be close to perfect.
During my senior year, I wish I would have been given a glimpse of my future. Even if you aren’t a suburban student attending a HBCU, it’s still a rewarding experience. I have learned many lessons about myself and ancestors. These lessons have shaped my aspirations and motivated me to serve. The best advice I have been given is not to listen to others. Chose the college that makes you happy and not others. When you get to college make sure you are willing to take risk and build upon your prior knowledge.