Fresh out of high school with a new-found independence, I was accepted into Morgan State University, a historically black university (HBCU) in Baltimore, MD. Even with an honors scholarship covering all of my tuition expenses, I wasn't the least bit thrilled about this next chapter.The dreamer in me wanted to explore the world freely and peel back all it's layers as a means of new discovery. The thought of analyzing another Shakespearean play, or finding the solution to some complex algebraic expression didn't quite hold my interest.
Now don't take this the wrong way– education is extremely important. I just wanted to explore all options before making a four-year commitment. But, college was what everybody was doing. And if there was ever a time to succumb to peer pressure, this was the perfect time. I followed the crowd.
And so began my commute from the rural landscape I call home to the bustling city of Baltimore three times a week.
I spent a lot of time on the road. Too much time in fact. It was in between stop lights and traffic jams that I had enough time to agonize over my traveling blues. There was no way I could continue to do this. It was draining on my body and car. I left school after one year.
During my "hiatus", I had a baby. I guess you can say I explored a little more than the world. My pregnancy became both a wake-up call and a means of motivation. I now had a purpose to go to school. To build a better future. To become a statistic...in the other direction.
On a whim, I applied to Bowie State University, Maryland's oldest historically black institution. I was accepted soon after.
I embraced my education at Bowie State University. As an elementary education major, I was proud to be enrolled in a school known for it's successful production of teachers. Astronaut Christa McAuliffe, who was the first teacher in space, earned her master's degree from Bowie State University. A residential community on the university's campus is now named after this famous graduate.
I was one of a few select recipients who earned a grant from the Tom Joyner Foundation. This grant paid for the fees associated with the Praxis, an exam required to receive professional licensure for teacher certification. I passed with flying colors.
I would continue to excel, earning a place on the Dean's List every semester and later becoming a member of Delta Mu Delta. I even switched my major after completing two years as an education major. I decided to put my efforts into business. And I did.
I found my calling...but lost my drive. Eventually, I left school.
When I look back on my days spent at Bowie State University, I can never recall a bad moment. Sure I hated the commuting aspect, paying for a parking permit, experiencing technical errors in the computer lab, waiting in long lines at the financial aid office, and finding ways to fill my day when a class was unexpectedly canceled. But, I took so much away from that experience and gained more knowledge there than I had over the course of high school.
I remember meeting people from all walks of life.
I remember heading to the bookstore to pick-up a few school-branded clothing items to show my spirit.
|Sporting my BSU gear|
I remember being one of only two students in my class to earn an A in accounting, opening the door to a wonderful internship opportunity.
I remember supporting my friends in the gospel choir, singing along during various assemblies as Dr. Joan Hillsman directed (loved her energy and spunk).
I remember, for the first time, learning about other influential and notable African-Americans, other than the "textbook heroes" from grade school.
I remember it all. The college experience is a lot to absorb.
New faces. New places. New spaces. All to be shared under an umbrella of diversity. No two people are alike. And still, that is what makes it all the more intriguing- stepping outside of that comfort zone to become your future.
As I follow today's news of a fatality at Bowie State University, I cannot seem to wrap my head around the senselessness of it all.
The irony is that a person, who was most likely required to pass a communications 101 class, failed to initiate a conversation to settle a dispute, will now be given the right to remain silent.
While I don't know all the pieces to this puzzle or what exactly occurred inside the walls of Bowie Place that night, one thing I know for sure: violence, on any level, is never acceptable.
I just hope that outsiders understand that this incident is in no way a reflection of the wonderful university I once called my learning grounds. I never once felt unsafe, violated, or fearful in the Bowie State University environment.
To the family and friends of the victim, I offer my condolences. To the family of the accused, I pray for you as well. No one is a winner in this situation.
Let us not lose another to each other.