To the Class of 2016, congratulations. You have done it. You have proved many wrong, and you have made your family, friends, and most importantly, yourselves proud. In addition, not only are you a college student, you are a historically black college or university student—which means you have quite the shoes to fill.
A handful cannot cover the amount of people who have successfully graduated from these important institutions of higher learning. From heroes and heroines like Spike Lee (Morehouse College) and Alice Walker (Spellman College) to Tom Joyner (Tuskegee University) and Taraji Penda Henson (Howard University), dedicated, ambitious, and unwavering people make every effort to better themselves, and prove others wrong by attending institutions that historically serve underserved persons.
Some believe HBCUs have completed its original mission and are thus no longer relevant in the twenty-first century. Others argue that as long as HBCUs strive to provide individuals with opportunity when no one else cares to bother, these institutions will always be needed. Nonetheless, I believe there is a purpose in your decision to attend a HBCU—and it is up to you to find, understand, and grasp that resolution.
As incoming freshmen, you are now radically free more so than ever. Your parents will not be there to wake you up for school, and you will no longer be pampered with everything you want. I welcome you to college, where scholar students conduct proper prior planning in order to prevent piss poor performance. And here, if you want something, you have to go get it yourselves.
To students who once underachieved, like myself, college is a place where you can revamp into someone that differs from your role in high school. If you dream of being a doctor, attending college will shape that dream into reality. If you want to save mankind, college will help mold you, and bring out the inner humanitarian that is within us all. But this, of course, is easier said than done (let us save this fear for another time).
This is your year, however, and this is your time to have fun, make mistakes, and be rebellious. College truly is “the best four years of your life,” and surely the latter are characteristics that will make it worthwhile and memorable.
Central State University told its incoming freshmen students they are the Elite Class of 2016, and the class’s slogan is “Mission Possible.” In life, things are only perceived as impossible from your own standpoint. Change that mindset and believe anything is possible if, and only if, you put your mind to it. Welcome to the yard!