On May 9th, in just under three weeks, I will be an alumna of the illustrious Hampton University. After four (although it seems like forever) strenuous but momentous years, I will be receiving my Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism with a minor in leadership studies. As I reflect back on all of the all-nighters, cram sessions, cafeteria dates, and party (and occasionally gate) hopping, it’s surreal that I am finally at the moment that I have pictured since I set foot on campus my freshman year. It’s bittersweet, but just remember that this isn’t a goodbye, it’s just see you later.
When I was first choosing colleges, I knew a few things to be true: I wanted to go to an HBCU, I wanted to write, and I wanted to be as far as I could from home. Hampton was the perfect haven for me with the opportunity for all three. After attending Honors Visitation Weekend my senior year of high school, I knew in my heart that this was somewhere I could see myself. My freshman year of college, I was just a shy girl from Atlanta, but Hampton helped me to become much more than that. Over the years, I joined various organizations, met people from all over the country, gained executive board positions, and stepped outside my comfort zones in more ways than one.
Having my senior year online was devastating at first. All of the time and money I had invested in my college experience, just to have what was supposed to be one of my best years spent at home was unbearable. Even now, I’m still a little spiteful when I think of all the experiences the pandemic caused me to miss out on. However, if there’s one lesson I took from Hampton, it was how to adapt. Hampton taught me to be unapologetically myself. Being surrounded by so many brilliant, beautiful, and bold black people was the push I needed to stop second guessing myself and my abilities. It wasn’t an easy process, and I’m not saying the school gave me a complete character transformation, but it definitely inspired me to be better and do better.
In my last year, I serve as the editor-in-chief of the Campus Curlz blog, an associate editor for HerCampus, the vice president of membership affairs and recruiting for the National Association of Black Journalists, and the senior representative for the William R. Harvey Leadership Institute. I have been inducted into Kappa Tau Alpha, the journalism and communications honor society, and maintained on the Dean’s List for the past three years. After graduation, I will be accepting a full time position in an associate program and starting my career in communications. All of these accomplishments to say, I’m proud of myself. A couple years ago, I would’ve never imagined myself in the place I am today. I don’t credit Hampton with everything I have, but I definitely credit them with giving me the tools, opportunities, and inspiration to succeed as a black woman going into the world.
So to my soon-to-be alma mater, thank you. Thank you for the unforgettable and insurmountable experiences. Thank you for the lifelong friendships and idiosyncratic encounters. Thank you for the devotion you poured into me, that I can now turn and water someone else. I wouldn’t have experienced this growth and fulfillment anywhere else, and I am eternally grateful to my home by the sea. This isn’t goodbye, it’s just see you later.