It’s been a while since we waved our class of 2019 off to college. This is the first in our “Letters Home” series, in partnership with the T.C. Williams High School College and Career Center, in which our newly graduated Titans give us their impressions of life away from home.
Sophia Parker is a Political Science major on the pre-law track at Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women located in Atlanta. She received funding from the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria.
Sophia Parker writes:
There’s nothing that can quite prepare you for college. For many, it’s their first time being away from family, familiar settings, the normalcy they’ve had the entirety of their lives. You’re now expected to manage your time completely on your own. Don’t remember when that upcoming Spanish quiz is? Check the syllabus. Don’t feel like going to class? Well you can most definitely skip but you’re losing quite a bit of money doing so. You go from the nurturing setting of high school where competition mainly remained in the sports setting, to college where you’re not only competing with your peers but with yourself as well. All of these things can be challenging and put a toll on your mental health which is overwhelming – and a lot to handle for any first year student.
It doesn’t have to be that way though. I attend Spelman College, the #1 HBCU in the world, as a Political Science major on the Pre-Law track. College for me has meant trying new things and exploring the person I want to become. I’ve tried out and made my dorms dance team and am even apart of a DMV club which allows me to keep a piece of home with me.
Being in the honors program has allowed me to test my intellectualism and engaged in meaningful discussions with the girls around me. Everything in high school was standardized and everyone had to fit the same academic mold to meet the standard of “excellence” high school expects from you. However college is not like that. Attending a small, private, HBCU, liberal arts school was the best decision for me because I’ll never have to worry about my teacher not knowing my name, or feeling unsupported by faculty, or worse of all… being the only Black girl in a class.
While the diversity at T.C. Williams and Alexandria as a whole is unmatchable, something I do miss about home, being surrounded by like-minded intellects is allowing me to learn and grow around people who look just like me.
I do miss the deliciousness of mumbo sauce, the quaintness of Old Town at night, and of course, the advisors who helped me so patiently get to where I am now, specifically Ms. Morris. I plan to return to Alexandria as an adult and hopefully send my kids to T.C. Williams as well. While Atlanta is dynamic, diverse, and home to the biggest group of Black college students, the Atlanta University Center, Alexandria will always be home.”
Russell Biesada is majoring in Aerospace at Middle Tennessee State University. He was awarded The Buchanan Fellowship, which is limited to 20 students per year and is the highest award given to an entering freshman at Middle Tennessee State University.
Russell Biesada writes:
So, more than one month of college at Middle Tennessee State University done, and I’m about a third of the way through the semester right now. Is it what I expected? I always knew that college would be hard, much harder than high school was. Well, the four tests that I had in three days and multiple research papers I’m currently working on seem to support that college is harder than high school, but I do have a lot more free time with only two or three classes each day. College isn’t all about classes and homework though. A year ago, I was reluctantly writing another essay, this time for my application to MTSU’s Buchanan Fellowship program. At the time, I was unaware of how important that one essay would be. Not only did I receive a Buchanan Fellowship, I was immediately one of a group of 20 incoming freshmen who have become my friends and a group I hang out with on a regular basis. My dorm room floor is the designated freshman aerospace floor, so I’m surrounded by other student pilots and aviation enthusiasts on a regular basis. Meeting two different groups of people who have similar interests has been great, especially for an out-of-state student like myself. Of course, nothing in life ever goes as planned. For me, I was sick for about a week and a half. My older brother had warned me that being surrounded by thousands of people on a regular basis would result in me getting sick with something. Well, I wasn’t expecting it to happen as soon as it did, but with two-thirds of my dorm floor sneezing, I guess it was inevitable. Eventually, I decided to go to MTSU’s free Student Health Clinic and it wasn’t long before I started to get better. That’s a really good thing, as I’m flying this weekend. While I won’t be doing my private pilot flight labs until the spring semester, a requirement for one of my aerospace classes is a flight and ground school session. I’m really looking forward to it, and not just because I love flying. It gives me the opportunity to pick up my flight training where I left off from my Senior Experience at Liberty University. I was fortunate enough to be chosen as one of the inaugural members of the Virginia Space Grant Consortium’s Pathways Flight Academy and spent two weeks at Liberty logging flight hours. Overall, I’m really happy with my decision to attend MTSU. I know that the weeks ahead will hold the challenges of midterms/finals and time management, but I’ve made some good friends and found that the emphasis on being part of the “True Blue” family is real and not just hype.