If I could go back in time, I would go back and relive my undergrad experience at North Carolina A&T State University. I can honestly say it was the best time of my life. It wasn’t just the gym jams, probates, walking around campus to meet up with friends, and of course, the Greatest Homecoming On Earth that changed my life, but also the people, the professors and the energy that was just Black AF.
I only applied to two colleges, A&T and UNC-G. Truth be told, I only applied to UNC-G just to say I applied to more than one college. My heart belonged to A&T as soon as I stepped foot on campus for a summer program the summer before my senior year. I knew then that was where I was going to spend my next four years after graduation. Even at 16, I could see how attending an HBCU was a thing of beauty and that I needed to be a part of it. Something about being surrounded by black folks who were like me, but different at the same time. We all had our blackness in common but that wasn’t the end of it. Even though we all came from varying backgrounds and upbringings, it was like meeting long lost family you didn’t know you had. It was like how everybody knows that “Before I Let Go” is the last song they play at the club and everybody magically knows the words. It was home. Even now, years later I can see someone I went to school with and pick up like we never left school. Or I can randomly meet an Aggie on the street and there’s instant connection. It’s family.
And it wasn’t just the student population either. The professors were different… well, different from what I was led to believe college professors were like. They cared. I had four different majors (don’t judge me) and that meant I had different advisors. Each one of them took their time to help me figure out what classes I should take and made me feel listened to when I was unsure of myself. The class sizes were smaller. In fact, I had several classes with 10 people or less in them. I only had one auditorium class and that was freshman biology. I didn’t know anybody in the class but I remember sitting next to this girl and offering to look out for her when she was absent if she would look out for me when I was. I’m not sure if I would have been comfortable enough or confident enough to do something like that at another school.
The most important thing I can say about my experience is that I was able to learn in an environment where I didn’t have to worry about whether I was going to be one of the only black kids in the classroom. Or if people were going to look at me and think I didn’t belong in honors classes. I woke up every day able to be a college student, not a black college student.
While I am an Aggie to the core, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my HBCU law school alma mater, North Carolina Central University School of Law. The same Black AF energy that I experienced at A&T, I felt there too. Attending an HBCU was one of the best decisions I could have made for my life. There’s not a day that goes by that I question my decision. So if anyone is questioning whether or not they should attend an HBCU, you should. You might just have the time of your life.