by: Tiera C. Harris
Hampton University Helped Me.
After reading Julian’s article about her displeasure with Howard University, I took some time to reflect on my own college experience. I recently graduated as a broadcast journalism major from Hampton University and I honestly believe that my experience at HU shaped the person that I am today.
Unlike Julian, my mother had no influence over my choosing Hampton for higher education. In fact, she would have preferred I apply to the University of Georgia, a PWI that is a lot closer to home. I had my heart set on attending a historically black university and I only applied to two, Hampton and incidentally Howard University. It was the beautiful campus, the journalism program and the higher amount of scholarship funds I was offered that lead me to select a Hampton education over Howard’s. This is not to imply that Hampton is better than Howard in anyway, (although its obvious which I consider to be the real HU). Believe me, Hampton does have its quirks. There certainly is room for drastic improvement in several areas such as campus living and Greek life. However as a whole, I sincerely appreciate all that I was able to take away from my undergraduate experience at my Alma Mater.
I can’t articulate much about the HU math department, but there is much to be said about the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications. If you’ve ever met a journalism student from Hampton you may have noticed just how proud he or she was to be a “Scrippa.” That school is like a small microcosm of journalistic energy that houses state of the art equipment and stellar professors. Students are compelled to extend themselves beyond the walls of the building and into every avenue available. When you sit through a journalism class at Hampton you will notice that there is barely any “busy work.” The professors rely on hands on experiences and real world situations to guide their instruction. Those journalism professors, one I particularly have in mind, will certainly challenge and test you. However in the end, if you’re persistent enough to persevere, you’ll find yourself to be a better person in the end.
While there is always room for improvement in regards to a quality of education, I am grateful for what I learned at Hampton, both in and out of the classroom. Mind you, I’m referring to a school that sports the mantra “an education for life.” Some of the most valuable lessons weren’t included in my professors’ lesson plans. They were taught through the standard of excellence imparted to the entire HU community. For example, I reference the dress code. Younger students frequently have a strong irreverence for the dress standards at Hampton. I’ve learned how critical it can be in preparation for the real world. Many deem the school overly traditional or too old fashioned. Several events insisted a business professional dress code including a dark skirt suit with panty hose, a white collared shirt, and black closed toe pumps with minimal to no jewelry and accessories. You would think that this is a bit excessive but when I mention that there are Hampton students that beat out other candidates for positions solely based on the way they were dressed you may change your mind. When I let on to the fact that there are other college graduates around my age that don’t even own a suit, you might understand my point. I’ve walked into several interviews and business meetings and personally felt embarrassed for how some folks were dressed. We aren’t taught to be “bougie” at Hampton, we are taught to be prepared. Wearing a business suit is just a part of the deal.
I am sentient towards Julian’s reference of school funding. I believe many, if not all, private HBCU’s struggle with spending, decreased outside funding and inflated costs for students. I am obliged to admit that slowly but surely Hampton University has poured some of its funds into awesome initiatives. From a completely revamped locker room for the athletes to a scholarship program for first generation freshmen students to the beautiful new cafeteria I am proud of my home by the sea.
In retrospect, Hampton not only helped me, it shaped me. I didn’t pay several thousands of dollars just for classroom instruction and a degree; my money went towards an education and experience for a lifetime-and it was well spent. What’s most amazing about attending HBCU’s like Howard and Hampton is the way it molds you and influences your growth into adulthood.
Conclusively, My advice to you, Julian, is to hang in there. Though I admire your no holds barred opinion, I honestly think you just need a little more time. I vaguely recall having similar grievances; fuming at whatever grave injustice I had suffered at the hands of a professor or administrator. Today, that’s not what I remember most. I remember more of the professors who did care and less of those like you described in your math class. I remember my struggle with challenging teachers and how accomplished I felt to prevail. You seem to be a smart and fearless student. None of the problems you mentioned seem insurmountable and eventually you will overcome and let go of your frustrations, replacing them with pride and appreciate for what your university will ultimately do for you.