Getting ready for college was one of the most unnerving ordeals I’ve ever had to go through.
I didn’t know what to expect and aside from school Web sites, brochures and a few virtual tours, I relied mostly on recruiters to help shape my perception and stance on college.
They told me that me it was the perfect place to get the genuine black experience.
But in all honesty, we are a people of complexity and there is no singular black experience.
They told me more than half of the women that graduate from historically black schools find their mates in college.
But the likelihood has turned out to be considerably slim with the severely disproportionate female to male ratio on campus, in addition to other factors (snaps for the kids).
The only thing my recruiter was accurate about was the band and homecoming.
But for some reason, I couldn’t think of going to any other school.
Attending Florida A&M University has proved to be an invaluable experience filled with plenty of disadvantages, but ultimately so many rewards in return.
Being here has exposed me to so many different people and allowed me to become more introspective in thought and aware of my community.
I am now a part of an established and significant family. I have ties to my university and an intense bond with the people here.
Part of the bond that I share with my peers is rooted in the struggles we all endured.
We’ve stood in those lines together, ate in that cafe together, lived in that crappy dorm together and we’ll eventually march across that stage as better people.
It’s that understanding that makes all those disadvantages so sweet in hindsight.
I’ve tolerated some of the laziest and most unprofessional staff members and professors in the world.
But I’ve also been able to connect with some of the most nurturing, thought provoking, intelligent, giving and selfless educators I’ve ever met.
These are the ones that never let you slide by and challenge you for the better; the ones that take the time to learn your name.
So, despite the shameless classroom fashion shows, excessive parking tickets, illegitimate dorm room businesses, long awaited and ever anticipated financial aid refund checks and greasy campus cuisine courtesy of the café, I love it.
In spite of the community showers, extreme election seasons, complete with superficial candidates in corny orange and green suits, I love it.
I love watching the “100” take on any field at halftime.
I love the way everyone hisses at opposing teams at games and classics in support of our university.
I love to see my peers with their heads high as they proudly sing the alma mater.
For every prayer vigil we’ve had around the eternal flame, I’m thankful.
For every scholarship check that came in late or expensive textbook that I never even cracked, I’m grateful.
Because all of it has taught me so much and helped make me who I am.
In a realistic world where you don’t get a chance to see very many successful people in my shade, it’s a beautiful thing to see so much potential and promise in the eyes of my colleagues.
I can’t say I’ve had the ultimate black experience.
And I may not find my husband here.
But after walking across that platform and officially becoming a FAMU graduate, this will guarantee me more than just the right to wear one of those tacky straw alumni hats.
It will signify the deep and meaningful moment I’ve been waiting for.
It will be the moment when all of my critics are silenced, all of my ancestors are commemorated and all of my success is celebrated and acknowledged by my relatives and my FAMU family.
Yewande O. Addie is a graduating newspaper journalism student from Atlanta. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.