I feel like I just got here, but the calendar is telling me it’s time to leave. Initially, I set out to write a sweet, tearful farewell piece. Instead, I’ve ended up with the following few hundred words, made up of random stories, complaints, and thoughts of gratitude.
First off, though the University likes to call itself a “first-choice, premier institution,” NCCU was not my first choice. It wasn’t my second choice. I didn’t even consider going to NCCU until the very end of my senior year of high school. This wasn’t because I had heard bad things about the school—I had just never really heard much about it.
Here’s why I came to NCCU: They treated me like family on my visit. And they took a chance on me. When I came to visit this place for the first time, I was nervous, unsure, but also intrigued. Coming from a predominantly white high school in the mountains of western North Carolina, this was a new environment for me. I felt like an outsider, and I expected to be treated like one.
Instead, an undergraduate admissions counselor by the name of Akkem Mangum welcomed me to NCCU like he was excited to see me. I’m sure it was part of his job, but he seemed to go out of his way.
Then, the university offered me a scholarship based on my high school GPA and SAT scores. On all my other college visits, no one had really interacted with me one on one, and no one had seen potential in me, enough to offer me a scholarship.
As time went on, NCCU showed me another side of itself, a side that transformed me from a hopeful, wide eyed new student, to a more realistic, at times frustrated, central student. We can all think of examples of when NCCU drove us crazy, but here’s one thing that almost all of us are familiar with.
The music/random facts thingy that plays while you’re on hold with an on-campus number is awful.
Also, and I’m being generous here, on the rare occasion when you do get through to someone, it seems like half the time you’re greeted by a person who definitely sounds like you’re wasting their time, even though they’re being paid to answer questions like the one you have.
There are lots of little things that make NCCU a sometimes annoying place to be. But I think the positives help tip the scale back in the university’s favor.
For me, the most strikingly positive aspect of going here was the relationships I formed with my instructors.
I’m not sure how things go in other departments, but in the department of mass communications, the faculty are great.
A few shout outs are in order:
Professor Brett Chambers challenged me and others to apply for internships and take chances on opportunities as they arise. Dr. Lisa Paulin gave me a chance to collaborate with students on a community paper and improve my feature writing and storytelling skills.
Mr. Tom Letts drove me to insanity with his expectations for error free, tight writing but ultimately made me a better writer. Dr. Russel Robinson made me think critically and work harder than I wanted to.
And Dr. Charmaine McKissick-Melton (A.K.A. Dr. Mac) helped connect me with internships and navigate through registration. Lastly, Dr. Bruce DePyssler, the Echo’s faculty advisor, gave me the opportunity to work in a newsroom environment.
He taught me how to write fearlessly, without worrying about the potential consequences of being honest in journalism. Another positive thing about NCCU that will stick with me is the relationships I formed with my classmates.
My roommate Dillon Strepay was like a brother to me when I was far away from my immediate family. Greggory Carrington III was always down to play basketball in the Walker or just goof off.
And Ben Johnson was there from the start and remains one of my very best friends. Most important to me, NCCU brought me to the Raleigh-Durham area. Had that not happened, I never would have met my wife, Jordan. I love you, babe.
All in all, NCCU wasn’t perfect. But I know now that it was where I was supposed to be. Farewell.