Depictions of college life on A Different World weren’t too far-fetched from reality for me because I had the privilege of attending an HBCU (historically black college and university) for my undergraduate education.
I’ll never forget my years at Jackson State University. Looking back I wish that I would’ve taken more time to enjoy myself and really immerse myself into student life but even still, I had a very memorable experience. JSU made me who I am as you know me…as an entrepreneur and go-getter…and I’m forever thankful.
Below are a few more reasons why #TheeILove my Dear Old College Home.
1. The family environment
I don’t care where you were on campus, you felt like you were among family. I never expected to eat meals in the cafe that were similar to those that my mom and grandmother prepared. Game days were like family reunions and professors even seemed to take special interest in me and what I wanted to do with my life. I never felt out of place.
2. Encouraging the inner hustler in me
I didn’t become the hustler and go-getter I am until I was in the middle of my undergrad journey at JSU. The spirit on campus was one that encouraged enterprise. My professors instilled the importance of ambition and drive into me and it made me want to take charge of my career. From t-shirt lines, beauty and barber hustles to startups like my PR business, many of my peers took the entrepreneurial leap along with me.
3. Teaching me how to be an activist for a cause
Campus life wasn’t all fun and games. Through student organizations and special projects, I learned how to fight for a cause. One of my favorite projects was one in which my classmates and I developed a public relations campaign to raise awareness of the importance of going green and conserving resources. This made me realize that we are here to make a difference, not just take up space.
4. Lifelong relationships
I made some of the best connections at JSU. From classmates who later became partners on business projects, professors that would invite me back to speak to students to that hot guy on campus turned leader and professional and became my bae…my relationships continue to thrive beyond my days as a student.
5. Alumni all over the country (and beyond) who are actually willing to help you
This is probably one of the most underrated benefits of attending an HBCU. To be honest, I didn’t fully grasp how strong and valuable the JSU alumni family was until years after I graduated and worked for a very short time as a recruiter for JSU’s enrollment management team. The alumni chapters are so involved in the university and are dedicated to ushering in new students, helping to recruit new students and being there for recent graduates. I’ve never had an established alum of my other alma mater (Southern Miss) to go out of their way to help me…no shade, I’m just telling it like it is!
6. Instilling self-pride in me
I had identity issues growing up but JSU showed me how beautiful my blackness is. I learned to love and embrace my skin, my hair, my body, my voice and my story. My blackness became my best asset instead of one that I had to mask with other things. I learned to truly love myself and who God made me to be. Being around so many different types of people from all over the world who looked like me also showed me how much diversity exists in our race. I’m so proud to be a Black woman.
7. Helping me to face reality
I think it’s more apparent now than it was back in 2006 as and when I was a freshman, but people are not treated equally in this world. No matter how much we’re fed that everyone is equal, the laws of the world just don’t operate that way. JSU helped me to face the reality that as a Black woman, my road to success wouldn’t necessarily be more difficult but it would come with unique challenges…which brings me to the next reason I’m thankful.
8. Preparing me to compete
JSU prepared me to compete with the best of the best. I left the university smarter, sharper, more confident, more cultured and more motivated than I was when I entered. My alma mater gave me a great education, a wealth of resources and an amazing network to use as I entered the workforce.
9. Helping me become self-directed
Contrary to popular belief, HBCUs are not “easier.” In fact, I had to work very hard for everything. I busted my butt to make sure my resume stayed on fleek which meant lots of extracurricular activities, leadership positions, volunteer work and great grades. I had to learn how to manage my time and take responsibility for my own education.
10. For making me work harder
As I said above, I had to bust my butt. I had to work hard. My peers were just as smart as I was. The girls were just as pretty as I was. I had to bring a lot to the table to be considered for anything over the next person. I learned how to really hustle and get out of my comfort zone for what I desired.
I’m so glad that I went to JSU. I told my little sister (who currently attends JSU) that choosing Jackson State is easily one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. I still have a long ways to go as far as giving back to my dear old college home but I bleed blue and I’ll forever be a tiger!
Your turn to talk…
Did you attend an HBCU? What did you learn there? Rep your alma mater in the comments section!