BackgroundInterview Date:April 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school in Coconut Trees, FL with a graduating class of about 200 students. Half of my class went to college and the other half didn’t.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Extracurricular Activities: I’m in the College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences Student Council and I’m a coordinator for GlobeMed.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
With GlobeMed, I was able to travel to Malawi for two months fully funded, and that had a very big impact on my life and my experience at Howard.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
For the most part, we have an exam at least every other week. As far as assignments go, we usually have something due every week and we have clinical hours at the hospital and in the lab.
Is there anything you think your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
There’s a lack of organization which makes it harder as a student. But, I like how tight-knit the major is. There are a lot of different groups of students who all know each other and are really good at helping each other out. It’s not supportive in terms of the administration. The professors are not that supportive.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s more collaborative. We all try to help each other so we can all pass.
How accessible are your professors?
Not very accessible because we don’t have a building so it’s hard to go to office hours. We have to email them if we want to meet with them and, for a lot of professors, this is a second job so we’re not a priority.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
Yes, I’m happy with my choice. I chose Nursing because in high school I did a practical nursing program and really enjoyed it and wanted to continue pursuing it.
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Were there any resources or systems in place that helped you make the transition?
There was nothing school-sponsored that I used. Talking to upperclassmen helped me know what to do and what not to do and how to get through particular professor’s classes.
How has going to an HBCU impacted your academic experience?
I love it. It makes me feel very comfortable and I think it helps my learning in some ways. It makes you feel proud of who you are and prouder to be Black.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: College Hall North with one roommate.
Sophomore: Off-campus apartment with two roommates.
Junior: Off-campus apartment with three roommates.
What has been your favorite living situation?
The off-campus apartment this year.
How was transitioning from your hometown in Florida to Washington D.C. in terms of location?
It was horrible, I hated it. I’ve been getting used to it, but it’s too cold. I also wasn’t prepared for it because I am a first-generation college student so when it came to clothing I didn’t know what to wear – I just learned about thermal wear that you can wear under your clothes this year – and also the roads were different and everything else was weird to me.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I don’t really feel safe, especially after hours. I study late a lot and it will be dark and I’ll have to walk back by myself in the dark. I don’t really feel safe because we get a lot of crime alerts but luckily nothing’s happened to me so far.
Pros and cons of being located in Washington, D.C?
1) There are lots of things to see and even during the different seasons, there are things to do. Like, right now it’s the cherry blossom season which is really nice.
1) Traffic is bad.
2) Being an open campus, sometimes you’ll be on campus and not even realize it. That also leads to safety concerns because anybody can just walk up and do something.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Howard?
Right now, I can’t do much of that because of school and work. Every so often, I’ll go to a party or go out with some friends. I’m Caribbean, so I only really go to Caribbean parties. I don’t go to any of the house parties. Usually, if I go to a party it’s hosted by Reggae Fest. They host a lot of parties in D.C., so that’s what I like to go to.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Howard? Is there anything you would change if you could?
It’s okay. It’s better now because I’m 21. When I was under 21, I wasn’t able to get into a lot of the places where there were events going on, so that was something that I didn’t really like. I think I still prefer Florida nightlife compared to D.C. because I’m more used to the music that they play and the way people dress down there and what we do there is different than here.
How did you meet your closest friends?
Through the Nursing program and classes.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s definitely cliquey. When I first got here the cliques were based on where you came from, so the Chicago people hung out together, the Atlanta people hung out together and the Nigerian people hung out together. I feel like as we progress the people mix more, but now it’s more focused on Greek life, the organizations you’re in, the DJs at the school, and who’s more popular.
What roles do the different DJs play on campus?
They’re just really popular because there are a select few who are the DJs for most Howard parties, so everyone knows them. If there’s an event on campus, they’ll usually be the DJs for it too.
If at all, how did being a first-generation college student impact your social transition?
I had no idea what college would be like because I had never heard about it from my parents or older siblings, so I just had to learn about it myself. When it comes to Greek life, a lot of the students who are in Greek life had their parents and even their grandparents in those organizations so it’s a legacy thing.
How has going to an HBCU impacted your social experience?
I think it’s had a good impact. It’s shown me the diversity in the Black community because there are cliques based on different things, like being Nigerian or Caribbean, even though we’re all still Black.
To what extent do people of different sexual orientations mix socially?
They definitely mix well.
To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially? How strong is the Greek presence on campus?
I think everyone mixes because before people join Greek life they have their friends and they usually stay friends with those people after they join.
How do you like going to a school the size of Howard? How has it impacted your experience? [Howard has about 6,300 undergraduate students.]
I personally like the size because it’s pretty small compared to other universities. I came from a small high school so I feel like if I were thrown into a university with a huge campus it would be too much for me.
Do you feel like you’re more so a resident of Washington, D.C. or a student of Howard?
I feel like I’m more of a student of Howard because I’m just on campus so much. I don’t get too much of the feeling of being a resident of Washington, D.C.
Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Howard by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Howard?
I think so. I think it’s a very rough road and is not easy at all. After people leave and by the time they graduate, people are happy they made it through and after you make it you don’t have bad things to say about it.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No. I feel like I’ve tried, but I also don’t know how to try. I’ve received some contact information from alumni, but it’s hard when you don’t know where to start.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I went to them once to look over my resume, but I didn’t think they were that helpful. It didn’t seem like they really knew what I was asking for, so I never went back.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how easy is the office to work with?
Yeah, I’ve worked with financial aid. It’s horrible to work with their office. I haven’t had any good experiences with them. They’re rude sometimes, unprofessional, and not very helpful.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Howard before entering as a freshman?
It isn’t everything that everyone says it is. Before I came here I never visited the campus or knew much about it because I didn’t know anyone who went there. I just had everything that I had seen online and known that all these great alumni who are from Howard and that it is a really hyped up HBCU. I wish I knew not to be so overwhelmed because it’s manageable.
What is something a prospective nursing student may want to know that we haven’t touched on?
Take their studies seriously, especially freshman and sophomore year because some people don’t take it seriously and then don’t get into the nursing program the first time or when they do, they fail a class. The thing about the Nursing department is when you get to the upper-division classes is if you fail a class you have to wait a whole year, not just a semester, to take the class again. So, instead of graduating in four years, you’ll be graduating in five.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
The cost of living, so how much the dorms cost, how much the off-campus living costs, and the cost of living in Washington, D.C. in general. That was a shocker for me because everything was so expensive to me up here. When I moved off-campus and was looking for housing, I thought it was ridiculous.
Reasons to attend Howard:
1) It is a great experience. Even though you might have hard times and crazy times, it’s a wonderful experience that most people would say they wouldn’t trade. You might have bad experiences, but it’s a learning process and I don’t regret anything so far.
2) The social experience is great. If you do get into Greek life that seems like an amazing experience.
Reasons to not attend Howard:
1) It’s expensive. [Total costs for the 2018-2019 year were about $45,000.]
2) The financial aid office is horrible to deal with.