In 2005, straight off the plane from Miami, I stepped onto the Hill in painted-on jeans that exposed my tattooed back, a long side ponytail with the patented slicked back edges, and a funky attitude.
This country school, with all these hills and lame people-I’m just here to get this degree.
That was my mantra.
Fast forward four years later, I look a little different but I’m definitely out of here.
I always saw college as a necessary stepping stone to get to the money. I mean, I couldn’t sing, I wasn’t tall enough to model, and my parents weren’t rich, so I needed something to make me competitive in the real world.
Education was my solution.
I didn’t come to FAMU to have fun, because school and happiness just didn’t mix for me. I kept to myself and took care of business. I never got so drunk I couldn’t feel my face, I never went husband hunting in a frat house, and
I have never been to any of the Homecoming events. I just pushed through from one semester to the next because it was all about that end goal, to get out into my respective industry.
I thought the lessons I needed to learn were outside of school, I was “over it” before “it” began-class and the repetitive lessons, memorizing things just to pass a test, teachers who only liked you if you kissed up enough.
Opportunities outside of school were where my brain came alive; I grew confidence and met interesting people on internships or at side jobs. I rarely built long-term relationships with any schoolmate. But irony showed its funny face in the last leg of my college career.
I thought it was all over and I had sucked all I could from J-school.
But I had a huge lesson to learn.
Early this week I walked into capstone, which is basically just an exit interview required for all journalism students to graduate. I knew there was no way the committee would be able to look me in the face and not pass me.
After all I have been a part of every aspect of student media, had seven internships and I kept a B average, I couldn’t sink.
So imagine my shock when I found out I didn’t pass.
As a self-proclaimed drama queen, I gave the committee “the most.” I took a deep inhalation and let my jaw drop, because there must have been some mistake. I knew I should be getting my degree. I don’t have a loser bone in me. It angered me to think all of my hard work had been reduced to the failure pile of the exit interviews. I knew it would be rectified and I would get my degree.
That was never a question.
I was just angry that I was forced to go through the process. But the lesson came after I left that room. Two weeks ago I thought that all I would be stepping away from FAMU with was a degree.
People always have these college friends they can reminisce with twenty years after leaving school but that just wasn’t important to me.
I’m a loner and I was taught friends will only disappoint you. I’ve never really known or trusted the power of a friend’s love.
Within an hour of finding out the committee’s decision, I was bombarded with constant messages of reassurance and prayers from different people within the journalism school.
I realized I had a wall of unwavering love and support to hold me up.
These people were behind me when the chips were down, and never questioned that I had been wronged.
People who I never realized cared for me offered to do whatever was needed to help me out.
Now of course everything is fine and I will be getting my degree, but I have to thank the committee for their initial decision.
I realized the one thing I had been missing, a lesson that can’t be found in any textbook, the value of a good friend.
I needed these people and I didn’t even know it.
And now when I walk across that stage I hold something close to my heart. Its intangible and more precious than any degree– the loyalty and love of good friends.
Veronica Raymond is a senior broadcast student from the Miami. She can be reached at the email@example.com