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
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!
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