How did you choose St. Michael’s College? What led you to coming here?
I took a chance. I was involved in a pre-college program called Upward Bound, and my advisor asked me one day if I wanted to go on a bus to tour schools in Vermont. I had never been to Vermont, so I said sure, and signed up to go on an overnight. The second I got off the bus in Vermont it was already snowing, which was weird, but the campus felt different than all the other campuses I had been on, and I liked it. That night, my host took me to the grill, and walking around the Dion student center I could see myself as a part of this community. I was just having a great time. The next day I went to the open house, and talked to a professor of Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts for a while about different ideas surrounding media. I also talked to Kimoi Seale, who works in the CMAS office. We discusses different racial issues, he told me about the MLK society, and I became more and more interested as we kept talking. My counselor got me an interview that same day with Dr. Sarah Kelly, and it was just a really good conversation that didn’t even feel like an interview. I applied early action and got the full presidential scholarship, so I came on another overnight, and I submitted my deposit before I left campus.
What does being a first generation student mean to you?
It means the pressure’s on. I’m the first in my family to make it this far and take the extra step to go to college. I’m the one setting the example not just for my own children, but for my nieces and nephews when they grow up, and my success will help them later on. I can’t fail, which personally I’m not scared of, but I now that in this situation I really can’t because I have to make sure I set that example for them. It means that I am here for myself, and for the betterment of my future, but I’m also here on behalf of all the work that my family has done prior to this point to get me here, and I need to honor that.
How do you think your perspective as a first generation student influences your college experience?
I think that my perspective is a lot safer, in that I’m more likely to play things safe in certain situations. I’m not going to go out to a party and drink too much, because I know that that pressure’s on me not to fail and I can’t have any infractions on my record. Other than that, I think most first generation students are afraid to ruffle anyone’s feathers, because they don’t want any problems to get in the way of them being able to be the first in their families to graduate. Obviously I don’t want anything to get in the way of graduating for me either, but I’m not really afraid to ruffle feathers if it’s necessary to hold administration accountable, or whoever needs to be held accountable. I have to make an impact, wherever I am, so I’m not afraid to take action to leave an imprint on the community I’m in and make my voice heard.
In what ways has your college experience surprised you thus far?
I honestly thought it would take a lot longer before so many people on campus knew me. It did catch me a little off guard how quickly I became known on campus by a lot of people. I didn’t really take me that long to get involved on campus, which probably had something to do with that, but I was still surprised by how quickly I became a part of a larger community.
What’s something you’ve learned during your time here that was particularly impactful or influential to you?
I learned two huge things. First, the history of African Americans in the United States, which I hadn’t really gained a deep understanding of in high school. Here, I got an overview that I hadn’t before that really outlined my history and where my people really came from, and showed me how much of African American history is left out of grade school curriculum. Second, I learned how important a community is. There’s that saying that it takes a village to raise a child, and I learned here that it’s the same thing with social change. It takes a whole community to hold people accountable and really enact social change.
What was the transition into college like for you? Did you face any challenges in adjusting and if so, how did you overcome those challenges?
It was difficult, but I was better prepared than I thought I was. Coming from Upward Bound, they really teach you how to take responsibility for your own work. They try to treat us as much like college students as they can. We were given a syllabus that told us when exams would be, and that was basically it, which they don’t do throughout the public high school system. In high school, the teachers are held responsible for how well you do in class, but when it comes to college you’re the one held responsible for how well you do in class, so I appreciated being prepared for that. It was still tough in the beginning, when I was still adjusting to a new place and trying to find my groove, but once I did it was smooth sailing.
Can you describe an accomplishment that you have achieved so far during your time here that you are particularly proud of?
Being a voice on campus, mainly. I’m really proud that people actually take time to recognize me and listen to me as an influential voice of this community. Another thing I’m working on right now is creating and African American studies major/minor, and if I am able to accomplish that, it’ll definitely be a huge accomplishment that I’ll cherish.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I dream to be in a position where I don’t have to put myself first, and I can help those in communities that need the help. I know areas where just a little bit of help and encouragement goes a long way, and I really want to get to the point in my life where I have the money to donate to those areas where I see the direct impact. I’d love to give 20,000 dollars to a local high school, and see what they do with it and how the students benefit from it. I’m not sure what I want to do career wise yet, but I dream big. I’m just trying to see where the world takes me.