Op/Ed: Growing through the most intense but worthwhile stage of my life

In the quest to have higher education, an ambitious Black girl took a bold step moving all the way from New Jersey to Texas to get a degree in communication studies with emphasis in strategic communication. That decision was based on a topic for another day, but it has well been a very fulfilling experience since Fall 2020.

The biggest culture shock I encountered from the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport to the campus of West Texas A&M University was the landscape. Vast lands with buildings sparsely visible and the aura of farmland, horses and cattle. I noticed there were little or no skyscrapers from Amarillo to Canyon and I still remember how my friends joked about me being “kidnapped” after I asked if they were sure we were going to the right place!

Classes began two days after landing and I was still getting used to my new environment. I walked into classrooms where I was the only Black person. Because I hadn’t made any new friends yet, music was my companion to and from campus. The courses I took during my first semester laid a solid foundation for my communication program, with Persuasion being my favorite class.

The African Student Organization (ASO) became home, as I met people with similar backgrounds, experiences and interests. I started being more outgoing and sociable. I didn’t realize I needed a social life until I found myself in WT. I had always thought being by myself was the best option because it “saved you from getting into trouble.”

Among the five personal interests I have, sports has a very special place. Following sports in WT and being a reporter for The Prairie News gave me something to look forward to almost every week. Some of the connections I made in WT were through sports. I also made amazing friends through engaging in campus activities and campus jobs I took with The Prairie News, most importantly, and Aramark.

As it is always said, “Better is the ending of a thing than its beginning.” I have grown immensely and improved as an individual through my experiences at WT. Having said this, there is no doubt that, in retrospect, I now wish I did certain things differently. Altogether, being myself ultimately gave me the courage and strength to go through this Spring semester. Keeping hope alive and counting the days to graduation has been fulfilling.

One growth factor for me was realizing that, inasmuch as people seem to be accommodating, the world does not have time to offer second chances. Contrary to popular opinion, first impressions count in a school or corporate environment. Though we do not know what the future holds, try to avoid giving people a yardstick to treat you differently than they would others.

As a Christian, my foremost gratitude goes to God, for everything I am, all I have and the woman I have grown to become. Taking condemnation with grace and still having enough strength to smile and forge forward are traits I believe God gave me to deal with the circumstances as and when they showed up.

My sincerest gratitude also goes to Dr. Yaw Adjepong, who led me through the lines of becoming who I am today. He is a father like no other and one who still holds my hand when I need the guide. Only few people understand and are able to relate with me on a philosophical and objective level. For all the words of advice and opportunities you gave me, I am immensely grateful.

I am grateful to my family as well for the support, love and words of encouragement. To my friends who have been there for me regardless and taken me through it all, I say I couldn’t have asked for a better crop of friends!

My appreciation also goes out to the one person who has held me down, especially during this last semester. Helping me keep up with my schedule, supporting me in every way possible, looking out opportunities for me and pushing me to be the very best version of myself that I could ever aspire to be. Booksy, thank you for “getting” me, loving me and being my number one cheerleader!

I must say, this is only the beginning of greater things, a springboard to greater ambitions and tunnels; to entering bigger rooms, making more influential connections and taking public-speaking stages! To other ’22 grads, we did it!