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!!

Advertisements

An HBCU Experience: Finding Sisterhood!

LARK

Lark3Age: 21

Studying: English & Minoring in Comparative Woman’s Studies at Spelman College

Hometown: Washington, DC

Why did you choose Spelman?

I was initially drawn to Spelman because I wanted to go to a great school that would be different than the one I’d had for the past twelve years. I knew Spelman’s academic expectations and size would be similar to what I was accustomed but I was curious about how my worldview would change by attending a historically black women’s college.

 

What was first semester, freshman year like? What was the adjustment like?

Initially, the adjustment to college was a bit tricky for common reasons. I had an awful roommate, was confused about registration etc. When things settled down and I got comfortable in my routine I was able to appreciate all that Spelman had to offer!

 

Would you say you found your social niche? If so, how?

I found my social group through my first year hall- my friends and I joke that if you didn’t live in my hall freshman year I still have no

(Lark in pink jacket)

(Lark in pink jacket)

idea who you are. I also made a lot of friends through participating in activities sponsored by our Women’s Resource and Research Center (WRRC). In my opinion, the WRRC is the greatest place to have discussions, meet new people and (as Spelman’s tagline/ theme song says) make a “choice to change the world”. I’ve learned about more social justice initiatives and met my most open minded classmates in our women’s studies department. Most importantly, my women’s studies classes and the people who gather in the WRRC have given me the tools and vocabulary to express my thoughts on the issues I’m passionate about.

 

What is it like being a black female at a HBCU?

I think it’s great. I love the sisterhood I have found and fostered with my friends. Mostly I appreciate the role the homogeneity plays in the classroom. It is wonderfully freeing to be a Black woman in class with only other Black women. This is not to say that we are not a diverse group of students. We do not all understand the world or even the texts’ we study in the same way. Navigating classroom dynamics is less stressful because the microagressions and uncomfortable situations I had to deal with in my independent grade school classrooms don’t exist at Spelman. For example: I have never been asked to be the voice for all Black people or to read the Black woman’s part in a play and none of my professors or peers have made incorrect assumptions about how my personal background helps or hinders my academic experience. My time at Spelman is the first where I have been a part of an inclusive learning environment that encourages, respects and expects all voices to be heard. It has helped me to become a more confident person inside and outside of the classroom. I think the benefits of all girls/ women’s spaces and all Black spaces are extremely beneficial and their benefits wildly underestimated in today’s society.

 

What kind of activities or groups were you a part of?

I am a part of the Toni Cade Bambara Scholar/ Writers/ Activist Program. We meet with social justice groups and activists from around campus and the world who share with us about the causes they support. We also organize a conference where students and other activists facilitate performances, workshops and panel discussions that explore the complexities of Black/ African women’s lives. I’m also a member of the Atlanta University Center Alliance for Fair Labor. We work to help our maintenance and cafeteria workers get the wages and working conditions they deserve. We also try to raise awareness in the AUC about the daily injustices workers around the world face. I also volunteer in the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art!

 

 

Studying Abroad in India!

Studying Abroad in India!

What opportunities did Spelman afford you?

Spelman affords its students many opportunities in college and afterward. If you want to do something, and know who to ask, you can probably do it through Spelman.

 

Would you say you enjoyed your experience at Spelman? 

I have so many favorite things about Spelman but what I have enjoyed/ appreciate most is my professors and the material they cover. For example: as an English major, I had a mandatory class this past semester called “Seminal Writers of the African American Tradition” where we read works from James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Richard Wright and more. It was amazing and pretty standard for most of the humanities courses I’ve taken.

 

What advice would you give for others trying to decide on college?

Try to pick the school that is most suitable for your learning style and will give you the most opportunity to grow. Going to college is such a huge privilege and financial investment but you’re the only one who has to do it. So, pick the major you want to pick and participate in the activities you want to participate in. Study hard. Most importantly: Be open to learning new things about yourself and others.

Want to get in touch with Lark? Follow her on twitter @Lark_T