I want to be a Rattler…

Whenever a student is in the process of applying to college, there are a lot of things to look for: location, costs and status. As I walk through the campus of Florida A&M, the face of our institution is changing. The campus is suddenly more diverse than ever and every year the number of non-black students attending only grows. Diversifying FAMU will only allow us to grow as a whole but have you ever wondered about what led each of these students here? Out of all the universities in the country–and world–why did all of these students choose to be Rattlers? What other schools they were accepted to?

It may seem as though you are dealing with individuals who have had generations of family members grow up in the Tallahassee area so FAMU was their first and only choice, but if you take a closer look, you will notice that everyone has a story. There are some who say they dreamed of coming here, whether it be for the Marching “100” or the prestigious undergraduate programs throughout the university. Then there are those who got accepted into other high-ranking universities but say they made the heartfelt decision to be a Rattler.

According to Black Enterprise, FAMU is acknowledged as one of the top three HBCUs in the nation, so is it so hard to believe we have students come here over others?

“I was ready for a huge cultural learning experience,” said Abdullah Islami, 19, a pre-pharmacy student from Daytona Beach, Fla. Islami was accepted into NOVA Southeastern University, the University of Florida, the University of Connecticut and Temple University in Philadelphia.

“The experience I have had so far at this school has been great,” he said. “There are some great people here.”

Family tradition is very important to many students. It is meaningful and fulfilling to continue a legacy that a great grandparent created. Some say they grew up around Rattlers; therefore, there was no other place they could go to call home.

“I came here because both my older sisters came here, and we wanted to keep the family tradition,” said Shekinah Bond, 18, a first year art education student from Norwalk, Conn. Bond was accepted into the University of Connecticut and the University of Tampa. “I couldn’t afford to attend U-Conn, and UT is in a bad area. I was comfortable enough to come to FAMU because of my sisters,” she said.

Others find their way here because of the closeness of campus life. Amber Hiler, 21, a fourth-year fine arts student from Gainesville, Fla., said the people at FAMU are very inviting.

“There is a difference between this campus and others,” she said. “The professors are so laid back and helpful, it’s easier to get a one on one.”

Hiler said she has no bad experiences here after rejecting Savannah College of Art and Design because of the lack of funds. Islami says he doesn’t regret coming to a university that has exposed him to so many different people. Bond will continue to let her legacy grow through the Rattler life.

The biggest lesson to learn is that being comfortable and feeling at home is very important when in college. This is a campus that has allowed us to grow as individuals because we are placed in real life situations. I know being here has given me the chance to build relationships that I know will last a lifetime.