Dreanna Neal, a junior business administration student at Florida A&M University, has always been a Rattler.
“I was born in Tallahassee and even went to New Beginnings, the FAMU preschool,” Neal said. “I’ve had a FAMU license plate since high school. Like, it was obvious where I was gonna go to college.”
A second-generation Rattler, Neal, affectionately known as “Dre,” had always planned on attending Florida A&M University. Her parents, natives of Orlando, dated throughout their time at FAMU and have had a heavy influence on Neal’s commitment to the university.
“My mom was getting her MBA from [the School of Business and Industry] when I was born here in ’99. I’ve been basically involved with the university since I was born. It was some weird twist of fate that even after spending time in Orlando, I come back to Tallahassee and I connect with all of these people at FAMU that either knew me from when I was a kid or knew my parents while they were at FAMU.”
One such “weird twist of fate” manifested in Neal’s acceptance of a job as a student worker at the same office that her mother worked at while she was attending FAMU: the Office of Property Records. Ashley Smith, a graduating education student and Neal’s former coworker, noticed something “distinctly FAMU” about Neal the first time they met.
“When we were working together, I noticed that Dre had a vibe that just matched all the other kids I’d met at FAMU,” Smith said. “She was cool, definitely from Florida, and really fun to be around. The way that she talks is nothing short of hilarious. She’s just so easy to be around like she’s been at FAMU her whole life.”
Ayana Richardson, another former coworker and recent graduate from FAMU, has similar praises.
“The girl is just fun to be around but she’s also about her work. She’s serious about being a business student and about making something of herself after college. But best believe that she goes to Set Friday and football games and Homecoming and supports FAMU like she bleeds orange and green for real.”
Despite her familial ties to the university, Neal knows that her experience at FAMU will be entirely of her own making. She plans on continually making her own memories during her time at the historically black university.
“I’ve made friends here that I know will last a lifetime. There’s just something about FAMU that makes it easy for me to be myself while also growing. This place has taught me patience, how to succeed in the business world, and lots of other interpersonal skills that I’ll be able to use anywhere for the rest of my life,” she said. “I don’t think that there’ll ever be an experience like the one I’ve had at FAMU – and I’m not even done here yet.”