I am a Hampton University alumnus Class of 2005.
Once people learn that I graduated from H.U. I hear one of two questions: 1) Why did you attend school so far from home?; and, 2) Why’d you go to an all Black school? (A contorted mouth, squinted eyes, and a hint of disgust usually accompany the latter.)
My response to the first question is simple. I was 17 when I graduated high school and wanted to get as far away from my native hometown of San Francisco as I could (I know, big mistake. Hindsight is a mutha). I’d never been to Virginia. Didn’t even know anyone who’d been. Sounded like a grand idea to me.
My response to the second question is just as simple but requires a few more sentences, so I’ll number them below:
- A Different World. This show made HBCUs look all the rage even if corny dudes like Dwayne Wayne and Ron were running around campus hitting on everything with a pulse.
- Higher Learning. This 1995 movie made HBCUs seem a lot safer than the alternative. As a young, impressionable girl watching this drama flick filled with racism and date rape scared me to death. My mind was made up halfway through the film. HBCU or bust. Eventually the effects of Higher Learning wore off and subsequently I graduated from University of Pittsburgh in 2008.
- The star studded alumni. Some of the most successfully Black judges, lawyers, business men and women, actors, bloggers ;-), and about any other profession you could imagine has matriculated from an HBCU. And, had you tuned in to the 2012 Olympics? Congrats to Lady Pirates Francena McCorory and Kellie Wells!
- I’ll admit I’m not too keen on marching bands, but I am a fan of football players…or I was. (Moment of silence to acknowledge my dear husband is too thin to be a football player, but whom I adore.) Where there are marching bands, there are football games. Where there is a football games, there are players…Hello! I did say that I was only 17 when I left home right?
- Black Sororities and Fraternities
- The Camaraderie. Not that there isn’t camaraderie at other colleges and universities. There’s just a special feeling that a freshman feels when he steps onto a campus and is surrounded by so many intelligent, well-to-do, talented people – who mostly look like you – in a place that has been standing for centuries and has a history that most don’t even get the chance to read about.
- My mom. She was so proud to send her daughter and her money to Hampton University. I think she may still have the T-shirt that says so. If not, she should. It cost her about $40,000. Thanks Mom!