Dear Class Of 2023,

Congratulations! You made it.

After all the adversities you may have faced; bullying, “roasting”, and for some of you, racists teachers and administrators who mentally drained you every day, you made it. My name is Dennis Richmond, Jr. and I am 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. I’m an HBCU alum myself, having graduated from Claflin University with a Bachelor of Arts in African and African American Studies in 2017. 

After working with students for the past couple of years, I have heard so many different stories. Some of you are coming from very negative home environments. Some of you are starting school with children. Some of you are independent students embarking on this journey alone and you’re afraid. With all that said, I would like to offer you all some college advice, to keep you on the straight and narrow. A little something, something from the big bro.

First off, be sure to keep your academics first. Do not put anything on campus before your academics. I mean that. That’s the main reason you’re there. Yeah, it might seem cool to want to run to her dorm late night and “talk” to her, Bro, or to pull up on him over the weekend, Sis. But remember, you have class in the morning. It’s easier for a GPA to drop. It’s hard for a GPA to rise. Case in point, stay focused on school.

Second, 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 they know everything. Just listen and take notes, Bro. I verbally battled professors before, Sis. Believe me when I tell you it is not worth it. At the end of the day, 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 confine your thoughts in. If you have some personal issues or some secrets that you share with people, be sure that those people will hear you out, love you, and support you. I’m telling you, be careful who you kekeke with. Some people on campus are just Hi-And-Bye people. You know, people you say what’s up to, but don’t really chill with. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Lastly, live it up! Nah, for real. 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., a contributor to HBCU Buzz. Richmond is the Founder and Director of the NYNJ HBCU Initiative.