I am a first generation, Black graduate of a prestigious, and world-renowned university. The more that I say it, the more real it becomes. I wish I had some deep and meaningful way to sum up my college experience, but I don't think I do. However, as the graduation ceremonies and festivities have finally slowed down, I do have some reflections about my college experience that I'll share with y'all.
I'll first start with this thought: College is not for everyone.
I am among a small group of college students who are fortunate enough to receive scholarships and grants to pay for their college education. I recognize that it is because of this funding that I was able to complete my undergraduate experience and leave with a diploma, which(in conjunction with my continued hard work, serve as a golden ticket of sorts. College is EXPENSIVE. For many people who attend a traditional 4 -year university, especially one that is far away from home, there has to be a trade off. Usually, some serious financial sacrifices that many aren't in a position to make, have to be made. Contrary to popular belief, there is no one time fee that you pay to attend college. Additionally, college isn't the only way to become successful - this we should already know, but in case we don't, here it is again.
What I can say is that above all else, college has taught me the the harsh realities of existing in predominantly white spaces, of advocating for myself and for others, and the importance of inquiry - not only within academic settings, but also outside of and around the presence of academia. Going to school with some of the brightest and opinionated minds allowed me to constantly practice defending my beliefs and my core values, no matter the resistance, and no matter how much my thoughts are challenged.
There's not exactly a rule book for how to exit college successfully. Many of us just stumble out of school and land wherever we land - whether it be back at home, in our dream job/career, in a new city or country, or back in school for another round of learning. I'm realizing that there's no one path to success and that is okay. Our journey is to be savored and appreciated through every step of the way, not rushed.
As for me, my stumble out of college has led me to Houston, Texas (well, almost)! In 6 short days, I'll be moving from Boston, back to my home state of New York, and then to Houston - a city that I don't know at all. I visited Houston for the first time last month. My trip lasted for a little less than 2 full days, so it's still pretty valid to say that I've never been to Houston before. I am scared and I am nervous, but most of all, I am proud. I am moving to Houston to pursue a career that combines my love of social justice and my passion for educational equity - I am a member of Teach for America's 2018 Corp.
Black Girl Navigates is entering another chapter - apartments, cars, jobs, salaries, healthcare, and pets (?). I am 22 and I don't really know what I'm doing, but I know that I have a tribe that surrounds me wherever I go.
For this newly minted college grad, that is enough. Congratulations to the class of 2018!
*Disclaimer: God's good grace brought this blog to life.