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My Life As…A Student at a Historically Black College

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While every college girl shares many of the same college experiences (Procrastinating, Blue Book exams ), she also carves her own path and has her own unique adventure. Have you ever wondered what it’s like for other girls? What it’s like to be an online student? To get married?! To play an NCAA sport? Well wonder no more. Our one-of-a-kind CollegeCandy writers (and readers!) are sharing their unique experiences and opening our eyes to different college worlds.

“I know my parents love me. Stand behind me come what may…”

Those familiar lyrics echoed through my television set as I watched one of my favorite programs, “A Different World,” six years ago. I watched Dwayne Wade in his cool flip-up glasses chase Whitley, the southern belle, throughout the campus of Hillman College. Hillman, a fictional Historically Black College (HBC), set the precedent for all schools for me. Though I was a huge fan of the show, I’d never thought that I would be attending the real-life equivalent of Hillman.

I’m a sophomore at Howard University in Washington, DC and I’m proud to be here every, single day.

Attending Howard was my goal since the 11th grade when I attended a journalism camp and met CNN anchor Fredricka Whitfield. “Howard prepared me for the future,” she told us. “And when I left, I was ready to take on the world.” Seeing her poise and success motivated me to leave my small, rural hometown in pursuit of the nation’s capitol. I knew that I’d be getting a college experience that my friends going to predominately white institutes would not.

Even though tuition is high and even though there have been several bumps in the road, I know I’m being offered a unique opportunity. Howard is a beacon in the Black community. Nearly every student, organization and faculty has some type of history or legacy. There are classes taught by famous film makers and entrepreneurs—even John Legend has stopped by as a “substitute teacher.” I write for “The Hilltop,” our campus newspaper that founded by Zora Neale Hurston herself! I’m on the executive board of the nationally recognized Howard University Association of Black Journalists. Five of the nine Black Greek Letter Organizations were founded on this campus, making Howard hallowed ground for its many members.

I appreciate culture so much more now because it is unavoidable here. There’s always a DJ in the cafeteria and at socials, mixing old favorites with new songs from rappers and singers here. Though we learn about classical artists like Rembrandt or Picasso, African art is just as important. We’re able to watch foreign films and look at pieces from Mali right here on our own campus.

At home, I was made fun of for my dark brown skin; I was always the “blackest” girl in my classes. But here, everything is so different. I feel so comfortable when I’m on campus. I see people who look like me every day. Every shade of brown, different hair textures, and black women and men in all shapes and sizes are represented. I never knew that one group of people could be so diverse.

Wearing whatever I want is fun too — I’m finally out of the “Holicrombie” (Hollister, Abercrombie) style bubble that my small town was. Howard is considered one of America’s best dressed campuses, so I can dress up for Algebra II without getting quizzical stares.

As Bison, we’re the best and brightest of our hometowns. Everyone wants stand out to be the best. The competition is cutthroat. There are only a few spots for young, black professionals in the career world, and all of us are fighting for them. And because of the existing legacy, it’s our job to expand it. Every day, I walk the same ground that Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison, Phylicia Rashad and so many other notable figures have before and I remember that I’m not just here to earn my degree, but also to expand upon Howard’s amazing legacy.

— Story written by Khalea Underwood

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COLLEGECANDY Writer
When she’s not watching for Blue Ivy sightings or doing some serious Facebook creeping, Khalea, a recent Howard University graduate, moonlights as a magazine intern and a freelancer in New York City. Follow her on Twitter at @letsbeKHAlear, or feel free to Twatch. Whatever works for you.