BackgroundInterview Date:April 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2019
High School Experience: I’m from Brooklyn, NY but I went to a private boarding school in Newtown, PA with a graduating class of about 115 students. There was a culture of going to college
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Elementary Education
Extracurricular Activities: I’m a member of a music fraternity and I used to work as a resident adviser.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It changes each year, but we definitely have a lot of reading, responses and article critiques. We also have a lot of lesson planning and writing about lessons, execution of presentations, and stuff like that. Our major grades are essays and other written work like lessons plans, critiques, and analyses. We don’t have many tests and quizzes.
Is there anything you think your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
They do a good job of giving you opportunities to experience the classroom and be involved in one. Something they do poorly is communication. They don’t communicate with the students as well as they could about what certain requirements are and what their expectations are. I also don’t think they’re very good advocates for the students.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s collaborative. We work together on a lot of things and pretty much whoever you have class with starting sophomore year is who you have class with for the rest of your time at Howard because pretty much everybody in the major is on the same path, so you work together very often. You literally have the same people in every class you have and it becomes your mini-family. We have all the same requirements, have to complete the same assignments and turn them in at the same time, go to the same ceremonies, seminars and professional development events, etc.
How accessible are your professors?
Very accessible. They’re pretty much in the building all the time and our classes are small so you can always talk to the professor after class or right before class.
What has been your favorite class you’ve taken for your major?
Engaging Urban Parents, Families, and Communities. We learned a lot about dealing with parents, families, and students and how to deal with certain challenges that may present themselves.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice?
I am happy with my choice. I chose it because I have a passion for teaching. I really enjoy working with kids and helping them learn to value their education and stuff like that.
How did going to an HBCU impact your academic experience?
It’s great to be around people who look like you, support you, and have the same mindset and goals. Everyone wants to represent and be Black excellence. It’s also nice that I don’t have to worry about somebody being racist or prejudiced against me. It’s like being in a little family and community that you’ll pretty much never get to be in again once you graduate from an HBCU.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Drew Hall North with no roommates
Sophomore: Bethune Annex with one roommate and two other suitemates
Junior & Senior: College Hall South and I worked as an R.A.
Fifth Year: I took a fifth year because I changed majors, I live in Howard Plaza Towers West.
What has been your favorite living situation?
I liked living in College Hall South because I got to be an R.A.
How was transitioning from your hometown in Brooklyn, NY to Washington D.C. in terms of location?
I’m from New York so D.C. was actually better than being where my boarding school was in Pennsylvania because it’s a city.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I feel safe, but I know other people might not feel that way. I haven’t had any encounters that have made me feel unsafe. I am used to high activity situations and places that people may deem unsafe. I know some unsafe things have taken place, but, for me personally, I feel safe.
Pros and cons of being located in Washington, D.C?
1) There is public transportation so you can get places.
2) If you’re interested in business or politics, this is a great place to be.
3) It’s in a city, so there are things to do.
1) The metro system is not 24 hours.
2) Things can be really expensive.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Howard?
Being a musician, my nightlife involves going somewhere where there is live music or I’m performing somewhere. I also go to parties that somebody from my school is going and will be with people from my school. I tend to go out on Fridays, Saturdays, and maybe Thursdays. It changes from year to year which houses are the “party houses,” but usually any party is at an off-campus house. They’re hosted by a group of friends, a fraternity, or just somebody deciding to have a party.
What is an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Maybe I’ll go to the movies or I’ll just hang out in the dorms because those can be pretty active too. Since it’s a city, there are a lot of things to do.
How happy are you with the weekend options at Howard? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m happy with the weekend options. I can go to a party, I can go to the movies, go into the city, or just hang out in the dorms, so I’m happy with them. In order for anything to change, I’d have to change the student body so there would be more people from New York.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My close friends are all from New York and we all kind of fell into each other. It started out with GroupMe. When we got accepted, there was a GroupMe made for people to communicate. We would talk there until Accepted Student Day where we got to meet in person and then by the time Freshman Week came around I knew someone and then he knew someone else who knew someone else, and then we just stayed best friends.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s pretty cool. You don’t have to be the most popular person to be impactful and just because you’re popular doesn’t mean you are impactful. You can just find your lane, hang out with the people you want to, be yourself, and be happy. If you want to get involved in certain things, sometimes that can be difficult, but really everything can be in the palm of your hand if you work for it.
To what extent do people of different sexual orientations mix socially?
There are a lot of gay people that you don’t even know are gay, so I can’t say how common it is. I don’t see any gay people being ostracized. Everybody hangs out with everybody and it’s okay.
How has going to an HBCU impacted your social experience?
It definitely made me more aware, more confident, and allowed me to have a better understanding of where we are in the world and how important it is for us to represent and be excellent in what we’re doing. It’s also helped me understand that the world is always what it may seem to be. Being at an HBCU allows me to be with people who are like-minded and willing to challenge something and making a difference.
To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
People in Greek life and not in Greek life mix all the time. You don’t become Greek and only hang out with Greek people. You might hang out with them more often, but you still have class with other people and you have friends from before you joined Greek life. People’s friends might change a bit when they join, but you still hang out with the people you hung out with before you joined. Greek life is big here because people take it very seriously and getting involved is taken very seriously, but it’s not like if you’re not involved nobody will talk to you.
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 haven’t considered the size at all. I like the fact that I can go here for four years here and meet somebody for the first time that is in my class.
Do you feel like you are more so a student at Howard or a resident of Washington, D.C.?
I feel like a student at Howard. I still am a New Yorker to the bone so I don’t identify with 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 would say 50% of people are. Some people love that they had a Howard experience and came here, but they know that certain things should have been better. Certain experiences, like dealing with choosing classes or dealing with faculty, could definitely be better.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how easy is the office to work with?
Financial aid has improved, but it still is a struggle. I have to go there like six times for them to do something that one person did in one move. Sometimes you get incorrect information or they don’t spend much time to guide you and make sure everything is correct, and that can be a hassle because you then have to invest more time.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Howard before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how seriously people take the Divine Nine fraternities. I wish I knew how much people want to be involved in them and where they think their futures will go if you get involved. People get involved for future ambitions, clout, social status, and stuff like that.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
Check out the dorms and see if that’s a place you’re comfortable living.
Reasons to attend Howard:
1) It’s an HBCU and it’s the best one.
2) You will have a blast and learn a lot about yourself if you try to.
3) You’ll meet some people who could be your friends for the rest of your life. Even if they’re not your friend, you’re both going somewhere in life and there’s no reason why you can’t be acquaintances and help each other.
4) Howard produces Black excellence, so come be a part of that legacy.
Reasons to not attend Howard:
1) You will have to go through a hassle to get things done.
2) If you’re not willing to work really hard, this might not be the place for you. You have to understand how to balance and be organized because some people don’t make it out of the first semester.
3) It’s expensive. [Total costs for the 2018-2019 year were about $45,000.]