Dear Fly Black Girl Part I
Dear Black Girl,
I know what you’re going through. A new school, a new experience, and you’re probably away from home--it’s different. You’re no longer in high school and you’re stepping into a brand new lane--college. And you’re not just at any school, you chose a historically black college. Being surrounded by that much history and rich culture can be simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. No, you won’t get the same experience as your best friend who might have chosen to go to a predominantly white institution, but your best friend also won’t have the same experience you will. So, cheer up! This is going can be an amazing experience.
While the HBCU experience is one of a kind, it has its pros and cons. Yes, you’re surrounded by black people. No, it’s not like A Different World or Stomp The Yard. This is ok, because at least you get to create your own experience.
Real talk: one of the main things HBCUs lack is funding and resources. You may find that your friends at PWI’s have better technology on campus and resources that your university may not be able to afford. You can’t let this determine your success. You are responsible for your own education and it’s what you make it.
Furthermore, over time, you’ll run into people who may question the authenticity of your education because you went to an HBCU. Don’t let this discourage you. Use this as motivation to prove them wrong. Some of the best engineers, nurses, and influential people are products of HBCUs. This creates an automatic sense of pride for all students. You’re now a product of this amazing community.
But of course, it’s not all bad. At an HBCU, you’re going to be surrounded by people who look just like you from a variety of backgrounds. Get to know different people and find out what interests you. Also, remember, while you’re scouting out amazing people, you never know the impact you have on another black girl’s life, so be someone else’s inspiration.
Choose to stand out due to your academics and your involvement on campus. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, you just have to do what works for you. If you’re not into Greek Life or the Student Government Association, it’s ok. Although it may be hard to get involved at first, it’ll be worth it in the long run to find a group that does work for you. These four years will change your life and it’s best to find your footing and your network.
Finally, if you don’t know something, ask. The people around you are there to help you. Create a support system that you can go to for anything. Whether it’s your roommate, the girl who sits behind you in class, or even your best friend who seems to be 300 miles away, these people will be essential to your growth. Your support system should be there to pick you up whenever you fall down. And trust me, you will fall down, so choose wisely. Ask your professors, classmates, and roommates for help. When things get out of hand, utilize your resources on campus to help you get back on track. Counseling services, the health center, tutors and your resident assistants have all been through what you’ll experience. Think of them as an extension of your support system. Also, be someone’s support system--encourage yourself and those around you, even when it gets tough. Figure out what works for you and how you can be successful. And please remember, to take time for yourself. It’s so easy to get lost in the stress, fun, and excitement of college that we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s okay to miss that frat party or tell your friends you can’t make it to Fried Chicken Day at the café. Find something therapeutic that allows you to channel your energy in the right direction. Whether it’s meditation, listening to music, or putting your phone on do not disturb for an hour, take care of yourself mentally. Remember why you’re in school, and let that be the driving force behind every decision you make. This experience will prepare you for the rest of your life and it’s completely in your hands. Be prepared for the laughs, the late night studying, the fashion shows in the cafe, the internships, the alumni dressed in your school’s gear from head to toe, the constant swag surfing, the greeks strolling on the yard, and the reality that it’ll all be behind you once you graduate. And, even then, your HBCU memories will always be with you.