The Transition: Myth v. Reality
Howard University is a place that is truly unique and irreplaceable. It has birthed several movements in America’s history and a list of distinguished alumni, whose careers span across a variety of industries and fields. We have produced the best of the best in the world and continue to do so. I am extremely proud of my Alma Mater and have felt a sense of pride since I first stepped foot on the yard four years ago. I bring this up because since orientation for graduate school students, I have heard a number of misconceptions about the undergraduate experience at Howard.
In each class there are students who have heard a variety of rumors about what it was like to attend Howard in undergrad. Some of these rumors are true, but most of them are unfounded and have caused me to address them for my graduate school colleagues and some freshmen, who may not yet understand the beauty of a Howard education.
Myth #1: Howard is not diverse.
Truth: Howard was a great place to attend because of its unmatched diversity. Nearly every state in the USA is represented and over 100 countries. We have one of the highest percentages of international students in the nation. Most people view diversity within the context of white America, which is why when they hear HBCU they only think Black. They do not realize the rich diversity inherent in Black America. Some have said that Howard does not adequately represent the world, but one class with Dr. Gregory Carr will teach you that the world is made up of a majority of minorities. Thus, Howard has a better picture of the real world than most other universities in our country.
Myth#2: Howard was not challenging.
Truth: Howard challenged me in a way that I have never had to be challenged. Some of my colleagues boast that they were able to be positive examples of a Black person for individuals not familiar. However, I spent most of my life being an example. Howard taught me how to truly be competitive. I was not selected or had to prove myself due to my race. Every one of us had to start at the same level and I was judged purely on the content of my character.
As much as people talk about the administration building, I have learned to turn my documents in on time (so they’ll be processed on time), I have learned to make copies of everything, and I have learned how to network. Howard students were the first students to be educated with the same curriculum used at the nation’s best institutions, the one’s that started the Harlem Renaissance, the students that kicked off Civil Rights Movement, the students that started student’s rights campaigns, and the students who have become the leaders in black America. We were picked as the best of the best: class valedictorians, National Merit finalists, class presidents, captains of athletic teams, community servants, and social justice leaders. As a result, we were held to higher standard. We represent the best that our race has to offer.
Yes, we may have historic buildings, manual processes and dorms without air conditioning., but we also have a heritage that makes each and every Howard graduate stand tall and proud.
So to all of my colleagues: welcome to the Mecca. Welcome to the responsibility of leadership, excellence, service and truth. In a couple of years, you will also understand why Howard graduates stand so tall. It isn’t arrogance; it is the confidence in knowing that you were educated because you are the best and experience hallowed grounds. Most importantly, you will renew the legacy of the giants whose shoulders all of America stands on.