Dear Class Of 2022,

Congratulations! You made it.

After all of the hardships of high school that many of you have faced; bullying, roasting, and for some, racists teachers and administrators who mentally drained you every day, you made it. My name is Dennis Richmond, Jr. and I am a graduate school student, Claflin University alumni, May ’17, and the Founder and Director of The New York-New Jersey HBCU Initiative. The mission of The Initiative is to educate students throughout the states of New York and New Jersey about the educational opportunities available at HBCUs

Through conversing with students for the past few years, I learned a lot about different situations. Some of you are coming from a very negative home environment, others are starting school with children, and some are independent students embarking on this journey alone and afraid. With all of that said, I would like to offer you all some collegiate advice to keep you on the straight and narrow. A little something from your, “Big Brother”.

First off, be sure to keep your academics first. Do not put anything before your academics. That’s the main reason you’re there. Yeah, it might seem appealing to run to her dorm late night and, “talk” to her Bro, or to pull up on him outside Sis, but remember, you have class in the morning. It is much easier for a GPA to drop than for a GPA to rise. Case in point, stay focused on school.

Secondly, don’t challenge every Professor. I cannot stress this one enough. Some professor’s love a good debate. Others on the other hand, feel as if everything that they are telling you is the gospel. Just listen and take notes. I have had my fair share of battling professors. Believe me when I tell you it is not worth it. It’s their classroom.

Third, remember that not everybody is your friend. Most college campuses, even those that have large student bodies, are “small” in a sense of students knowing other students business. Be careful who you tell certain things to because you do not want it to come back and bite you in the butt. If you have some personal secrets that you share with people, be sure that those people will love and support you and won’t hurt you. On the same token, be careful as to whom you walk with to get fast food late night. You do not want anybody setting you up.

Lastly, live it up! You made it to college! Have Fun! College doesn’t last forever and believe me when I tell you that the time spent on campus truly does fly by. Now with all that said, relax, pray and/or meditate as needed, and have the time of your life.

Now go out there and handle your BI, you heard!

This story was written by Dennis Richmond Jr., Founder and Director of The New York New Jersey Historically Black College and University Initiative.