Major: Broadcast Journalism at University of Maryland- College Park, currently a Grad Student at Ohio State
Hometown: Pine Hill, NJ
Why did you choose Maryland?
I fell in love with Maryland from the first moment that I stepped on the campus. I just had a feeling that this was my next home and I was correct. I visited the campus on a tour and I thought their was something in the water because every student I talked to seemed obsessed with it. I really feel like I found myself and found my passion while I was here.
What was first semester, freshman year like? What was the adjustment like?
The first semester was interesting. I lived in a predominantly White dorm, Centreville Hall. I was in the Scholars program. Most of the students on my floor wanted to stay in and hang out with each other or play mario kart. I did make a few friends but I was also the only African American girl on that floor which was a HUGE adjustment. I was used to diversity and while that existed to an extent on my floor I did feel disconnected from the Black community. Eventually I found my niche through RHA (Residence Hall Association), I started attending BSU (Black Student Union) as most Black freshman do. I got involved pretty early on and started making friends outside my hall and that made the adjustment much easier.
Would you say you found your social niche?
Yes I definitely found my Niche(s). I wanted to take every opportunity that Maryland had to offer so that I could have the full college experience. I worked with the Residence Hall Association to represent on-campus terps and plan events, I became a campus tour guide to convince other incoming students to fall in love with my school. I became a Resident Assistant, and then a Orientation Advisor and I even pledged a sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. I loved joining so many things because I created different diverse social circles and I really think those made my college experience.
What is it like being a black female at a PWI?
Pros:I was really able to explore Black beauty on this campus because of some of the inspiring mentors and upperclassman that I met.
I actually had a lot of African American female mentors and professors. My associate dean of the journalism school is African American, three of my journalism professors were African American women of color, my Higher Education mentor was a Black woman. So I was able to spend the last 4 years growing and learning from women who inspired me and made me believe that I could be successful in Higher Education too.
It was hard at first because I was placed in a predominantly White Residence Hall so I didn’t really meet other African American females and males until the end of my first semester.
What kind of activities or groups were you a part of?
University of Maryland Orientation
University of Maryland Department of Resident Life
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Residence Hall Association
Maryland Association of Black Journalists
College Park Scholars
Students Helping Honduras
What is your favorite thing about Maryland? Any dislikes?
I love the fact that it is so huge it creates so many opportunities and avenues to meet new people and learn from those people and explore their cultures, backgrounds, ideas, and minds. I made friends from my freshman orientation 4 years ago up until my last semester senior year and those are connections I will always cherish.
I honestly don’t really have any dislikes. I will say that I am an African American female who graduated with Straight A’s all four years with the only 4.0 in my graduating class and I feel like that was never recognized financially. What I mean by that is I feel as though extra scholarships or grants through the school would have been really helpful over the last couple of years and sometimes it’s frustrating that athletes get full rides and students who excel academically might only get an email saying Congratulations on making Dean’s list.
What opportunities did Maryland afford you?
Maryland helped me find my passion for higher education. This school opened so many doors for me to study abroad, to travel to other universities, to connect with celebrities and major companies, and it allowed me to make some of the most amazing friends.
Would you say you enjoyed your experience at Maryland?
I LOVED Maryland. I am a huge advocate for Maryland and I probably always will be. I loved my time here because I spent the last four years excelling academically but also enjoying my experience outside of the classroom and the mentors I found at Maryland helped me make sure that I didn’t waste away my four years but actually spent them finding myself and what I was passionate about.
What advice would you give for others trying to decide on college?
Go to the school that feels like a home. You spend four or more years there you want to make sure that you choose a university that gives you a feeling of comfort inside. I found that at Maryland and I hope that all students attending college find that too.
Want to reach out to Janae? Follow her on Twitter @jjanae or Instagram @j_janae!!