I dedicate my graduation to many things. First, I thank God for giving me the strength to get through six – count ’em – six years as a student at Florida A&M University. Eleven semesters (I took one off), nine crushes, seven stints in The Famuan, four presidents, three graduating classes (that I could’ve been a part of) and two broken hearts later.
And I still have six more weeks to go – d*** technicalities.
But it didn’t come without those who were there to help keep me in line.
Big Bird ( Valerie D. White), thanks for pushing me even when I felt I was out of gas.
P Weezy (Pearl Stewart) and Prof. Joe Ritchie, thanks for being the parental figures and being hard on me when I needed it.
Mom, thanks for being so nonchalant as I found my own way. It might’ve taken a little longer, but I’m not coming back home to live off you like some of these folks.
Sometimes things get in the way of you achieving your goals. For me, it was the fact that at one point, I was offered a job if I left college. It made me feel like I didn’t need my degree. For my brother, it was the need to be closer to the place he’d known as home his entire life.
When Mike (my twin brother) and I graduated from our respective high schools in Detroit, college seemed certain for both of us. He was headed to Alabama A&M to play football. I was headed to FAMU to do what I do best, crank out story after story after – you get my point.
We’d both settled in and got used to calling each other every day via phone card (yeah, everybody didn’t have a cell phone when I arrived). One day, I couldn’t get him. I later found out it was because he was packing up to go back home.
It had only been three weeks.
When FAMU got bombed, he was one of the first people I talked to – sort of reassuring him his little brother by 15 minutes could do it on his own.
When I got my first company car from The New York Times, I called him while riding back to Paddyfote to gloat about the brand new car I’d have all summer.
When I met a friend, he met that friend – even if it was through a phone call.
I wrote for the campus newspaper and made sure it was known I had a twin brother. His pic even showed up one time when The Famuan published baby pictures of its staff members during the “Old School” Homecoming of 2001.
He was also there when I failed my first class.
He was there to console me when I figured out I’d gotten too far off track to graduate in 2003. He was there when I fell in love – and it just wasn’t the right time.
Now, I might get to play the role for him.
Mike called me a few weeks ago and said he was thinking about going back to college.
“Good,” I said, noting that I’d heard this before.
“I’m for real man,” he said, noticing the sarcasm in my voice.
All I can do is wait. It might be different because he got married last June. So I don’t get as much time as I used to.
But I’ll be there. When he calls me on the cell phone to complain about his first “problem” professor, I’ll be there.
When he gets his first grades back, I’ll be there.
When he gets so frustrated he wants to give up again.
I’ll be there – with a nice expletive to make sure he knows I mean business.
Marlon A. Walker is a senior newspaper journalism student from Detroit. He can be reached at MarlonAWalker@aol.com.