On Monday, May 21st 2018 I closed a chapter of my life that has for the past four years been a major part of my identity. I walked across the stage of one of the most prestigious universities in the United States where I received the diploma I sought for so long. This achievement of being the first in my immediate family to graduate from college doesn’t just mean the world to my father who raised me as a single parent or to my grandparents who grew up under Jim Crow segregation, but it is an accomplishment for my ancestors who forcibly arrived to America under bondage. American universities and the educational institution as a whole wasn’t designed to educate people of color and especially not my enslaved African ancestors let alone help us advance up the social ladder when the United States was founded.
My time at Boston College has been a roller coaster of high highs and low lows filled with a lot of happiness, stress, and soul searching. There are quite a few memories that’ll make me miss college including some of the friends I made, my extracurricular involvements, and some of the shenanigans that happen in the dorms. Freshman year I’m most proud of the fact that I went outside my comfort zone and became a social butterfly in ways that I hadn’t in high school. I made friends with people from countries I never even heard of before and joined clubs I hadn’t done in high school which allowed me to quickly establish a network on campus. Sophomore year I challenged myself to take a leap of faith s by declaring a philosophy major and film minor and to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Junior year I participated in an international immersion program during my winter break and acquired an internship with a major television company. Senior year I got a freelance video production job with the Boston Red Sox.
Those accomplishments came with fighting the discouragement from being a first generation student and person of color at a predominantly white institution. Not a lot of people told me how taxing those identities would be at college or how much more you’ll have to overcome with those identities, but what kept me hopeful was knowing how far other first generation and students of color before have gotten once they left university. I’ve met executives that identify with my background who endured similar problems in college only to strive for better things. How I see things, we’re all dealt cards when we begin the game we call life with some of us being dealt bad hands which are circumstances to overcome in the society we live in. Those of us who played our cards to get a seat at an institution of higher learning have to weather the storm of four years until we pick up our college degree which becomes our ace or draw four Uno card you wait to drop when the moment is right. Now that it’s been a week after graduation, I’m striving to work towards the goals I have for myself five to ten years now because I want to inspire other first generation college students coming after me to not only dream big but to follow their passions if their interests are against the grain.