It feels like just yesterday I was unpacking crates and suitcases, preparing to set up my makeshift home in McGuinn Hall Room 146. I was Lysoling the bed, fumigating with Raid and stocking my mini refrigerator.
I moved in on August 14, 2001 with the rest of the Marching 100 prospects. After a few hours of family time and bonding, I shared a tearful goodbye with my parents and headed to auditions. Later that night I attended my first Marching 100 rehearsal.
After seven days of pre-drill, I decided the extra-curricular activity that I had dedicated almost eight years of my life to was no longer for me.
With hesitation and uncertainty, I packed away my clarinet, opened my journal and began my new life as a college student.
After a couple of weeks, I had found my new niche: Journalism.
Part of the reason I decided to give up music, my first love, was to pursue what I figured would eventually become my career. I knew that being on a journalism scholarship would require me to dedicate most of my time to just that.
I thought about how I could get involved at Florida A&M University.
I joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hatchett Pre-Law Society and the Strike Team. Then I joined The Famuan staff.
Although I knew that my ultimate goal was to become editor in chief, I never thought that this newspaper would become so dear to my heart. We, as staff members, often refer to it as a love-hate relationship. But inside we all know that without a love for journalism or at least the drive to excel, we would have quit after the first day on the job.
Looking back at the years I have spent at FAMU, I realize that I have learned countless lessons, the most valuable of which I believe were learned outside of the classroom.
As I think about the path that led me to FAMU, I realize that a traumatic event actually changed my outlook on life and that it was God who placed me at this university.
As a high school student at Delaware’s Glasgow High, I had no intentions of going to a Historically Black College or University.
Honestly, I perceived them as inferior.
My parents told me that at a black college I would get a cultural as well as an academic education. Morgan State University offered me a full scholarship before I had even entered the 11th grade. I didn’t care. I was stuck in the mindset that anything run by black people couldn’t possibly measure up to the Harvards, Yales, Princetons or University of Delawares for that matter.
Then my dad broke the news. We were moving to Atlanta. He’d received a promotion. As I collected my thoughts, I asked how my father could be so selfish. My mother would have to find a new job, my brother and I would have to start at a brand new school. And the worst part: I would have to give up my positions as class president, vice president of the Spanish Honor Society and most importantly drum major of the marching band. I was comfortable and didn’t want to give up any of that. But that wasn’t my decision to make.
We moved to Alpharetta, Ga., the most conservative richy-rich suburb of Atlanta that you can imagine. All the black people knew each other and the high school I went to was segregated, by choice. Alpharetta’s Chattahoochee High School had a “black section” everywhere: In the cafeteria, in the hallway, in the gym, in the auditorium and even at the stadium during football games. On my first day, I was welcomed into the mandatory clique and from that day on I developed a new appreciation for my heritage, culture and race. My parents jokingly say that somewhere between Delaware and Georgia I stumbled upon my “blackness.” I think I just opened my eyes.
Now as I sit in front of this computer, attempting to summarize the lessons I’ve learned over the past few years, I am appreciative for everything that has happened in my life. I am thankful that my father took that job in Alpharetta and made me step outside of my ignorance. I am thankful that through all the tough times my parents have stuck by my side. I am thankful for friendship and I am thankful for love. Above all I am thankful that my life path led me to FAMU, a place where I have grown beyond possible explanation.
In just seven days I will walk across the stage at the Tallahassee-Leon County Civic Center crossing into another phase of my undeniably blessed life. Praise God.
Elizabeth Broadway is a graduating senior newspaper journalism student from Alpharetta, Ga. She is The Famuan’s Editor in Chief. She can be reached at elizabeth_ firstname.lastname@example.org.