BackgroundInterview Date:March 2019
Gender Identity: Male
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public magnet school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with a graduating class of about 450 students. There was a culture of mainly going to LSU or Southeastern Louisiana University and other predominantly White institutions around the area.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Extracurricular Activities: I’m part of the Economics Club, Consulting Club, and the Morehouse Business Association.
Have any of your extracurricular activities had a particularly big impact on your experience?
They haven’t had a big, big impact, but they’ve given me a direction of what I want to do and opened up opportunities through the people I’ve met through the clubs and the networks of the clubs.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It’s mainly a lot of reading and studying. There is a part of Economics that has a lot of analyzing data and learning what the variables are, identifying certain trends, and learning certain behaviors, so that’s a lot of studying. The major graded assignments are papers and exams.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
Because it’s such a tight-knit department, there is a sense of camaraderie. You’re pretty much taking classes with the same people and all the professors know you. If you need help get something done for your paper or need to learn certain information, they will recommend you to other professors in the department who are experts in that area. The professors are also very understanding. They won’t just fail you, they’re going to try to work with you. They understand that this is somewhat a difficult field and help you understand it and not just [regurgitate] the information.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s collaborative in the Economics department. I can’t speak for other majors, but the epitome of the Morehouse brotherhood is in the Economics department. We all group up together and work on the lab project and study together for the exam at this time. We also have group discussions in class about economic issues happening in the real world and the professors encourage us to talk amongst ourselves.
How accessible are your professors?
Extremely accessible. You can contact them through email, just walk in their office, or make an appointment. Professors make themselves available not just for their class but for other classes. The professors talk amongst themselves and will say, “Hey, my student might come ask you for help on this” because they know that the professor has specialized in a certain area.
What has been your favorite class you’ve taken for your major?
How was transitioning academically as a first-generation college student? Were there any resources or systems in place that helped you adapt?
What really helped the transition was watching other students whose parents had gone to college before to pick up on their mannerisms and things that they did. With my peers in general, I wasn’t discouraged by being a first-generation college student. If I didn’t know something, I just had to ask and they’d be happy to help.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
It’s actually a funny story. I originally enrolled in Morehouse I was a Marketing major. When the advisement week came around, I didn’t know who my advisor was and I ended up going to the wrong office which was the head of the Economics department’s office. We ended up talking and she said that I would make a really good Economics major, so I became an Economics major!
How has going to an HBCU impacted your academic experience?
The social aspects of going to an HBCU are very different. Going to a place where it’s all Black people all the time created a sense of comfort in the classroom because there are certain things that you can only do or say socially with other Black people. It adds a different level of comfort socially and academically.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Living Learning Center with one roommate.
Sophomore: Perdue Hall with one roommate.
Junior: Moss Suites with three suitemates.
How was transitioning from Baton Rouge, LA to the AUC in Atlanta in terms of location?
That was probably the biggest thing because I lived in Baton Rouge my whole life. The culture and the slang were all the same in Baton Rouge but when I got here I met people from the DMV, California, Chicago, New York, and I realized I didn’t know anything. Atlanta is also a lot more fast-paced compared to Baton Rouge. It was really different but really exciting.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I grew up in Baton Rouge which is not the best place. A lot of people who are from safer environments feel uncomfortable here, but for me, it’s no different. I know when to walk at night and know to pay attention to my surroundings. I’ve never felt unsafe here, I just am in an impoverished neighborhood.
Pros and cons of being in the AUC in Atlanta, GA?
1) For Black people, especially if you don’t come from a family with connections, this place can give you the advantage of connections that a lot of people never have to reach another socio-economic bracket. You can network with people from Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta and you meet so many people who came from here who want to help you out. [22% of Morehouse students move up two or more income quintiles.]
2) People come to schools in the AUC because of Atlanta, not just because of school. Because of that, they come here so they can be entrepreneurs and be creative.
1) There are older buildings here.
2) There’s not much to do around the AUC. You have to go further off-campus to actually enjoy some of the attractions of Atlanta.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I just go to a friend’s apartment or hang out in my room. I was a party person my freshman year because I didn’t want to do it in high school and I wanted to experience it, but I think it’s overrated. There is too much time spent waiting in line to go to a party and too many five dollars spent to get in. Unless a friend of mine is throwing it, I don’t go to parties.
How happy are you with the options for weekend activities at Morehouse? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I think they should have more things to do on campus. I want something to do on campus besides go to a pageant, a stroll show, or a Greek event. I wish there were other things to do on campus because I’m not Greek and going to pageants and stroll shows are just watching other people have fun. Greek life, pageants, and stroll shows pretty much dominate campus activities. If you’re a freshman coming in it’s new and exciting but the novelty wears off.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I lived with them freshman year in the Learning Living Center. The people on that whole floor got really close.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
There are times when it can seem like high school where there are the popular kids, the people who are just there, and the people who are so far away from the crowd that they [aren’t a factor]. In general, the social scene is what you make it. There is no real animosity here amongst people, so you’ll find the like-minded people. You just have to go out there and be social and find the people like you. You’re probably going to be cool with the people in your classes and the people in your clubs. Even if you’re not the best of friends, at the end of the day we’re all Black men and Black women trying to do great things. There’s never going to be hate, it’s always going to be a, “What’s up, bro?” even if you just recognize a person.
How do you like going to an all-male school?
Sometimes it’s tough. In high school, you might look forward to class because there would be a pretty girl there, but here when you go to class it’s the same dudes all over again. Sometimes it can be really fun because whenever you get a bunch of guys together it’s goofy and fun.
To what extent do people of different sexual orientations mix socially?
I think they mix well. It’s all about what you make it. I sometimes feel like the gay students feel persecuted [for reasons I don’t understand] and they hang out with each other. There are also students who show themselves more as a person rather than their sexual orientation and those tend to be the ones who blend well with everybody.
To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
I think they mix pretty well. The new people who become Greek are the ones who stick out the most from mixing socially because they’re taking it all in. But, I have friends who became Greek who I’ve known since the first day of school and they’re still going to be themselves. For the most part, people are true to themselves and don’t let the letters define them too much. There are also people who are so into Greek life that it’s [their main defining factor], it’s not like they’re John who happens to be part of a certain fraternity.
How do you like going to an all-male school? How has that impacted your experience?
The funny thing about going to Morehouse is it’s a space where I feel more comfortable because in high school I was always looking at the pretty girls in class and wasn’t focused [laughs]. Morehouse is a bunch of dudes, so I’m more focused on my assignments and getting my work done because I’m in a space with individuals who are on the same road as me in terms of success in business.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
I haven’t contacted them yet.
What did you use the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I get emails from them all the time about job and internship opportunities.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’ve learned Excel and Stata mostly through Econometrics. Also, in a lot of Economics courses we have to write empirical papers where we use Excel data.
Have you used financial aid? If so, how helpful was the financial aid office?
The financial aid office if pretty difficult. I’m down there every year. Every time I go into that office it’s the same people with the same problems. I feel like they could do a better job of communicating deadlines and sending out alerts because they don’t tell you about when certain deadlines are coming up. They tell you once at the beginning of the year and expect you to have it done, and whenever it’s not done you can’t enroll in classes and there’s nowhere you can stay, and they pretty much say there’s nothing you can do. At the beginning of each semester, there is a mob of people there for like two weeks. I feel like something needs to be changed there.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Morehouse before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew that Morehouse is more of a life institution or a career institution rather than just a college or university. Your college experience is not going to be anything like Van Wilder or Animal House, it’s a lot of time spent in the classroom and also hearing people speak, going to meetings and collecting business cards, and going to career workshops. I knew that it was going to be hard and that was going to be a factor because of the prestige and the stereotype of being a Morehouse Man, but I wish I would’ve known how much it would play into it.
What does a “Morehouse Man” mean to you?
When I was in high school, I told my teacher that I was considering going to Morehouse and she said I seemed like a Morehouse Man because I spoke well, conducted myself well, and read a lot. Before I even was at Morehouse, I knew that Morehouse Men conducted themselves in a certain way.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
Go look inside the dorms if you get a chance and have that in your mind so you know how you’ll be living if you come here. It’s not very glamorous.
Reasons to attend Morehouse College:
1) If you are looking for an advantage in any kind of career goal, Morehouse is a great place to go to.
2) If you’re looking for a group of people who are going to have your back. The Brotherhood of Morehouse is different because it’s supportive of anybody who has dreams of being bigger than just somebody who just gets a job with a degree.
3) In the Black community, Morehouse Men are really praised. We are praised by some, not by all, and I feel like we could do more to enhance that among younger generations. Especially with older people, it’s admirable and respected to be a Morehouse Man. If you come to Morehouse, you will be in a special class of men who have been historically great.
Reasons to not attend Morehouse College:
1) Don’t come to Morehouse if you’re looking for the stereotypical fun college experience. If you expect these years to be the most fun or best years of your life, that’s not what Morehouse is for. Morehouse is to set you up for the next 40 years of your life.
2) Don’t come here if you’re not willing to carry yourself as a gentleman or a well-respected man. Don’t come here thinking you’re the [best] because everybody here is the [best], so you’re not. You’re just a guy here and you have to make your mark by doing you.