This past week, thousands of college students across the country headed home for one of the most anticipated holiday amidst on campus students; Thanksgiving. Fellowshipping with family and friends over various foods such as Turkey, Ham, Collard Greens, Candied Yams, Stuffing, Mama’s Baked Macaroni and Cheese, and Sweet Potato Pies and Banana Puddings (I know for a fact some of us have leftovers for DAYS that we brought back). Some families go around the table to say what they are most thankful for since the past year they have met for this reason.

This makes me ponder this one question: How many of us mentioned our beloved HBCUs and the families we have made there? Many times, some students are unable to go home for reasons ranging from financial troubles to student athlete commitments. Whichever the reason, we should realize and be thankful for the family we are among everyday away from home.

My freshman year, I was one of those students unable to make it home for the Thanksgiving holiday. I had planned to stay in my dormitory throughout the break – a big change from the full house I grew up experiencing. An entire building to have to myself for an entire four day weekend. Campus was deserted, and for the first time I found myself alone on one of the busiest days of the calendar year.

That is until an angel stepped in and said “NOT this year honey!” A friend of mine who lived a few doors down the hall who happened to live nearby had invited me into her home for the weekend. I was shocked yet extremely grateful that she and her family would do such a thing for me. One small gesture from one of my fellow Panthers and her family is something I am eternally grateful for. I had one of the greatest times of my life that weekend and remains one of my fondest Thanksgiving Weekend memories.

One thing that my beloved HBCU has taught me is the size of your family unexpectedly growing. Being in an environment where you are placed in the same space with a plethora of individuals from across the country -and even the world- opens your mind to things you have never known and the ability to see things from a perspective that you may have never imagined. Every individual that walks across campus has come for at least one reason that you may have.

Although everyone came for different reasons, to study different majors,  with hopes of different careers, one thing that is certain is you never know how much someone who was once a complete stranger may be the perfect addition to your family.