It feels so bizarre saying this, but my time at N.C. Central University is coming to a close. As I continue to inch closer to graduation, I must be honest and admit that I am shocked that I made it this far. Before I came to NCCU as a transfer student, I never thought I would make it to a college graduation. A strong community, dedicated professors, loving friends, and an innate desire to prove I could do it pushed me to this point.
My first university was UNC-Wilmington. I was 17 years old when I began my time there and I was ultimately bullied out by a racist professor who constantly targeted me and other BIPOC students in his writing. I still remember my last day in Wilmington. I called my mother around noon, and I broke down and told her about everything: the racist articles, the death threats, the lack of support from the administration, and the stress of being at a racist PWI. Before I knew it, I realized I had been crying to her for six hours straight. Eventually, she told me to pack my things and I left Wilmington that same night.
After that experience, it took me years to find my footing. Once the story of what I experienced began to get media coverage, I was quickly embraced by the kind, revolutionary, and loving community at Ignite NC and Southern Vision Alliance (shoutout to Nhawandie, Alex, Femi, Dee Dee, and Holton) and offered the opportunity to get trained in community organizing and advocacy work. It was work that I quickly grew to develop a passion for, and I spent a few years working at different nonprofits. Though, to be honest, I never truly felt fulfilled. You would think working at a nonprofit that your days would be filled with providing food to people in need, helping people get jobs, changing the lives of the most vulnerable, and constantly doing good for the people who need you. Though, in reality, that is rarely the case. Oftentimes, you’ll find yourself in an office room spending the majority of your time telling people that you can’t help them.
Years went by, then all of a sudden, 2020 happened and the world justifiably revolted against the brutal police murder of Mike Brown. I, like many others, joined the protests and did what I could to support liberation movements growing in my city.
I saw independent journalists for the first time at the protests. I was mystified. People like Jeff Taylor and Emmne Wright inspired me and I loved reading their work.
I thought it was incredible how they wrote stories that challenged narratives created by white supremacists. I loved the way they helped uplift the voices of those we desperately needed to hear. They were both protectors and providers of the truth, and their work was so important.
I knew I wanted to be just like them, so I took a shot in the dark and applied to NCCU.
When I got here, I didn’t have high hopes that I could graduate. Many people thought organizers and activists couldn’t be journalists, and a part of me felt I wasn’t going to make it. However, the guidance support from the faculty and administration consistently grew my confidence and my GPA. They encouraged me to stay and try my best, even when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in my junior year.
People like Dr. Mac, Professor Underdue, Professor Chambers, Dr. Hall, Professor Hooley and DP challenged me, supported me, and constantly pushed me to be better. Most of my professors were fair and kind, and nearly all of my classes were helpful and left me with new skills. I’m leaving this university as a confident copyeditor, researcher, multimedia journalist, audio producer, and lifelong student. I love my illustrious HBCU, and I will always think fondly of my time here.
I want to end this with a few shoutouts to some people who helped me make it here: To my dear friend Jessie, who let me stay with them when I became homeless my junior year. To Blue and Jamie, who helped raise money for my insulin when I was suddenly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in the summer before my senior year. To Malcolm, who loved me enough to spend a week sleeping in the hospital with me when I got sick. To James, who taught me my disability would never stop me. To my father, who co-signed for an apartment with me and helped me pay my rent when I wasn’t able to myself. To Kamaya, Nicole, and Greg who believed in me and offered me internships that gave me credibility and confidence. To Dr. Mac, who gave me someone to look up to and aspire to be like. To DP, who built up my confidence and made me feel like I can do this. I could not have done this without you. This win is as much mine as it is yours, and I am forever grateful for your kindness.