I love my HBCUs, both of them. I attended both NC A&T and NCCU and I received an education that was the “best of both worlds”.
I consider myself to be an Academic Gangster, I speak softly but carry a big stick, as my late mother would say. I attribute this to my upbringing and also my attendance at 2 of the finest HBCUs this country has to offer.
I started my college journey at NC A&T, where I learned that having an amazing sense of pride in your school and your culture became a part of daily life. Upon setting foot on the campus of A&T you are instilled with a sense of pride, from the apparel, to having a song dedicated to your class. If I went anywhere with an A&T shirt on people would always recognize it. Alumni would come up and give you a hug or hit you with a quick “Aggie Pride”, which you were taught to say back at your first orientation. This school was my first experience looking around and seeing people that looked like me everywhere. The HBCU experience is a great one.
I started off with aspirations of being a Computer Engineer, majoring in Computer Science. (I did this after one of my cousins that went to Morehouse) However, after my first programming class C++, I realized that I wasn’t as dedicated to a computer as I was to wanting to be around people. Let me add, that I could write any code down at that time on a piece of paper and hand it to the instructor. I made a B in the class though, only because I didn’t like doing homework. Moral of the story, do your homework and you will make an A. I also took quite a few math courses Calculus II was the end of my adventure with Computer Science. So I decided that I wanted to do something else. So I decided to change my major to Business Management.
Aside from classes, my most fond moments at A&T were from being a part of the E. Gwynn Dance Company of NC A&T. I had a strong history in dance and this was a dance company that I felt like I belonged in. My knowledge of fundraising, dance, ability to teach others, and my energetic spirit afforded me an opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to work on a documentary that required travel to South Africa, FOR FREE. How many people can say that? The project that we worked on was designed to help teachers in schools figure out a way to present information to their students in a different way. So in preparing to go on this trip we worked on lesson planning and presentation. I was able to teach a workshop with some assistance to over 20 instructors that focused on teamwork, utilizing your memory, community, understanding music, and how to relax and try something new. I was also given the opportunity to be a guest instructor for a dance class at the University of Cape Town.
This opportunity came from an HBCU, some people still don’t believe it to this day.
After taking some time off to work I decided it was time to get back into school and decided to transfer to a new HBCU where I didn’t know anyone. NCCU showed me that Business Management was a great choice. I was focused on my studies, my instructors were able to help me with job opportunities, I was also able to see President Obama speak at NCCU (before he was president), take some courses that were outside of the box and join an amazing business organization.
How many people can say that they have had a course taught by 9th wonder and Christopher Martin (Play from Kid N Play). It was a course that focused on the history of hip hop and utilized some amazing books, lectures, and special guests. At any point and time we could have a visitor in class and were allowed to have a Q&A session with them within the parameters of the course. We also had some great writing assignments.
However, my most fond moment would be participating in Phi Beta Lambda, which is a business organization focused on students with an interest in business. Every year there is a state conference that showcases what each school can do, how they can measure up to the next, and how the students can perform in different events based on your course work or school experiences. I was fortunate enough to win 1st place in the state for the Human Resource Management event. Looking at the participants from the other schools knowing that they didn’t look like me, gave me a sense of pride. Our school placed big that year winning more trophies than many of the other schools. b
All in all, my HBCU experiences taught me additional soft skills, self confidence, and a sense of pride. If anyone ever says that they didn’t get anything out of being at an HBCU, they either went to the wrong one, or didn’t take advantage of all opportunities.
My reward came December 12, 2009. I graduated Cum Laude, from NCCU. That gave me the greatest sense of pride. I knew where I had been and knew that all of the hard work had paid off. It made me realize that I am the new “gangster” , one that is armed with book smarts. So don’t sleep on the educated ones we see things from a different point of view. No one can hold me back and I know that I can be and do anything.