I never intended to go to a Historically Black College or University.
My elementary school, middle school and high school were predominantly black, and members of my family encouraged me to branch out and experience racial diversity at a predominantly white university. Honestly, when it came to choosing a college, the racial makeup was my last concern. I wanted to go to a school that would heighten my passion for journalism and help me to cultivate the skills needed to succeed in the field.
But then I found Hampton University.
I visited Hampton's website and discovered it had an entire school dedicated to mass media learning. I continued to peruse the site, and I like what I saw -- it had a beautiful waterfront campus, various student led organizations, a rich history --and it was in the south. I knew it was the right choice even before driving nine hours from Georgia to Virginia for my first campus visit one spring morning.
In the midst of my enthusiasm about Hampton, I knew it was an HBCU, and I feared I would miss the chance to experience the diversity I lacked in my secondary education. However, I was wrong.
While at my "Home by the Sea," I have met some of the most amazing people from all over the United States and the world, both faculty and students. I have experienced new dialects, new styles, new habits and new cultures, while still staring in the face of those with features and complexions similar to my own. There is something empowering about being emerged in the diversity of Black culture and uniting day-to-day on the basis of its complexity.
The HBCU experience is truly unique and is not for everyone. In many ways, it differs from the representation of black college life on television shows such as A Different World and movies such as Stomp the Yard, Drumline and Spike Lee's classic, School Daze. However, the camaraderie and vibrancy in student life is one and the same. Hampton's 12-2 celebration, which draws hundreds of students to the student center each afternoon for fundraising initiatives, health screenings, regional celebrations, Greek happenings, and sometimes just because it's Friday, is a true representation of that.
I am the first to admit that Hampton isn't perfect. The conditions of our historical buildings are an ill comparison to the freshness of buildings on some predominantly white campuses, the cafeteria food is a far cry from gourmet and customer service school wide could be a lot better. But even with its imperfections, I love my HBCU.
I made the right decision. Hampton University is exactly where I am meant to be. My education reaches far beyond the focus of academics. My professors genuinely care about my future success and what's going on in my life. They have helped me obtain scholarships, internships and networking opportunities. Hampton has helped mold me into a better student and because of my university; I am a better African-American woman. In May 2012, I will be proud to call myself a Hampton graduate and the product of a historically black university.