A PWI Experience: Finding New Opportunities and Avenues!

JANAEJanae`

Age: 22
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.

Janae6Would 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 Janae4upperclassman 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.
Cons:

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.

Janae7What 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

Janae2

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?Janae1

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.

Janae5What 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!!

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Making the Most of It

Hello FYM Project Readers!!

 

As promised, the blog is back in full effect as we roll into August! I hope everyone has had an amazing summer and has some great plans as we move into fall!

 

So, as this time of year is generally full of back to school preparations and first day anxiety, I decided the theme for this month will be College Experiences. I’ll be showcasing three amazing brown girls who’ve all attended different schools: An Ivy League, A PWI (Predominantly White Institution) and an HBCU (Historically Black College or University); and we’ll be discussing their experiences and reflections about their respective schools.

Looking back on my own college experience, I can confidently give this sole advice: Make the most of it. When I was nearing the end of my high school days, the only thing I was feeling was trepidation. I had taken the SATs, finished the applications, visited schools all along the east coast, but I was still so overwhelmed at the thought of leaving my familiar little bubble (I had attended the same school since 3rd grade). While most of my peers were chomping at the bit to reach independence and the “college life,” I felt like everything was moving too fast and wished I had a pause button I could press. On college tours everything blurred together, I had a hard time placing myself in any of these atmospheres. How was I supposed to pick one place to be for the next 4 years of my life?? I’ve been around the same people since I was 8 years old, can I even make new friends?? What if the work is too hard? And to top it all off, I had no idea what I wanted to study…I felt unprepared and far from ready.

But regardless how much I pulled back, life kept moving and soon enough I found myself attending orientation at the University of Maryland- College Park. I held it together as I met my new roommates and my family helped me unpack, but that night as I lay in my lofted bed, I was fighting back tears. You see, I’ve never been to fond of “new” and college was just too much new for me to handle. Even though I was in this new environment with hundreds of new people, I still held on tight to my old life. I went home every weekend, my social life consisted of class and seeing my roommates at the end of the day, and every chance I got I called at least one of my friends from high school. Put simply, I just didn’t put that much effort into making the adjustment. I didn’t attend club meetings, or go to events. I even avoided my own hallmates from time to time. Luckily I had some great roommates, and I had made some friends at a summer program I attended. But to  be frank, I made freshman year much harder than it needed to be for myself. It wasn’t until closer to my junior year that I finally ventured out of my comfort zone, and in my last year of college, I experienced more, met more new and amazing people, and learned more about myself than I had in the first three years combined.

I am extremely grateful that I was able to attend college, especially at such a great school,but sadly, I missed out on lot, all because I was too afraid of the unfamiliar. My experience could have been so much fuller if I had just put in a little more effort sooner. So, for my fellow brown girls who are preparing to embark on the journey that is higher education, all I can say is embrace the experience. Really get invested in learning the differences and exploring schools, find what you like, what you don’t, and make sure that wherever you choose feels like it could be home for you. It is perfectly fine to feel apprehensive, after all, this is one of your first major steps into adulthood, but don’t let that fear prevent you from making college everything it can be for you. College is a privilege that you don’t want to squander: go to class, meet new people, travel, party, date, and above all find what your passions are and pursue them!