BackgroundInterview Date:February 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: I’m from Atlanta, GA. I went to a public charter school in Sandy Springs, GA with a graduating class of about 400 students. There was a culture of going to college.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Comparative Women’s Studies with a concentration in Women’s Health
Extracurricular Activities: Last semester I competed in a pageant and I’m part of a dance company. I’m also part of the Granddaughters Club and an alumni organization called the Sister 2 Sister Professional Mentoring Program.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
The pageant really brought me out of my comfort zone. I met a lot of people through that. Also, being in a dance company allowed me to branch out and do dance shows and fashion shows. I feel like if I had not done the pageant or auditioned to be in the dance company, I would not be doing as much as I am. I also have met a lot of genuine people and made a lot of friends who I wouldn’t have known.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
This semester I’m taking five classes which fall on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. As far as workload, I don’t have any exams. I just have a lot of papers and reading.
Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
The professors care about the students and care about our future. They provide us with a lot of opportunities like last semester I went to a women’s conference and was able to network and meet a lot of new people. They really cater to our needs and our wants, more so than the other departments I’ve experienced on campus. I haven’t had any bad experiences with the department and I don’t think I will because my advisors genuinely care about me.
How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
My department is very collaborative. I think it’s a competitive institution in general and, even if it’s unintentional, there will be some competition between people. As far as the Women’s Studies department, everybody I’ve met is very supportive and helpful. We interact and collaborate with each other.
How accessible are your professors?
Extremely accessible. They have office hours and when I email them they get back to me within 24 hours. They also always have resources in the office for my major.
Do you feel people are open to multiple schools of thought in the classroom?
I feel like most of the students in my major have a feminist outlook, which is why they’re Comparative Women’s Studies majors, so often our opinions and beliefs are quite similar. When we’re answering questions or just responding to questions in class I don’t think they respond in anger, they’ll maybe challenge you but not in a negative way. They will directly respond to what you said rather than belittle your opinion.
Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
When I first came here I was a Health Science major, but science wasn’t my thing. Then I switched to a Dance major, and I was torn between that and being a Comparative Women’s Studies major. Dance ended up not working for me either, and I decided to be a Comparative Women’s studies major because I wanted to try something new. I also felt like it would teach me a lot of new things, which it definitely has. It’s expanded my knowledge in ways I didn’t think was possible. I’m very happy with my major.
How has going to an HBCU influenced your academic experience?
Being surrounded by Black students all day every day supports me and challenges me. I see a lot of my friends doing well so that encourages me to be more open about my future and stuff like that. But, especially coming from a predominantly White high school, that transition was a little hard freshman year even though I grew up around mostly Black kids. Academically, it’s eye-opening because our readings focus on Black authors and Black-focused subjects much more than I think it would at a predominantly White college.
On and Around Campus
Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Howard-Harreld Hall with one roommate.
Sophomore: Stewart Living & Learning Center (LLC1) with one roommate.
Junior: I live at home and I commute to school.
How do you like going to college in your hometown?
At first, I hated it. I thought I should have gone to Howard or Hampton, but I’ve become acclimated to being here. I do love my home, so it’s therapeutic to be here for school as well. I like being close to my family and it’s not an issue for me anymore.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
On campus, our police officers are very strict. I feel very safe on campus and outside of campus I feel safe as well, but I think that is only because this is my home. I think for other students who may think being outside of the Atlanta University Center can be intimidating. I’m used to the area around the school, so I feel safe.
Pros and Cons of being located in the Atlanta University Center in Atlanta, GA?
1) There are a lot of talented students. Meeting a lot of talented dancers, artists and musicians motivates me to pursue a career in the arts.
2) There are a lot of networking opportunities. A lot of celebrities will come here to talk with us and even students here know some important people.
3) There are students here from all different backgrounds. I realized being in the AUC is not just meeting Black/African-American people, people come from all over the world. That’s also good to see how their perspective changes when they come to the U.S. and learn about their cultural background.
1) Because Atlanta is a Black cultural capital, students in the AUC will focus on fashion and popularity. Being around all Black/African-American students can create a bit of competition.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I mostly like to stay home in my bed [laughs]. So far, being part of this dance show that’s happening next month, I’ve been going to my dance friends’ houses and having fun. I don’t really go to parties, I go to kickbacks every now and then if I want to treat myself. I stopped partying sophomore year, that’s not my thing.
What kind of activities do you like to do with your friends?
Sometimes we go out to eat or go to the park, but we mostly hang out at each other’s houses. We also might go to an event on campus depending on what’s happening.
How happy are you with weekend options at Spelman? Is there anything you would change if you could?
Now that I’m living off-campus, the weekend options matter much less to me. They could host more events on campus, I think that would be helpful, but everybody is mostly doing their own thing on the weekends. There are mostly just parties going on during the weekends, Spelman doesn’t host a ton of events in general.
How did you meet your closest friends?
I met my closest friends through the pageant I did. I also met some others through one of my friends throwing a birthday party.
How would you describe the overall social scene?
Sometimes it’s intimidating because most people meet their closest friends freshman year and stick to that group. It can be hard to branch out because, for the most part, people don’t talk to many others outside of that friend group. Sometimes during events everybody will come together dancing or around music and you can talk to people because you’re around them. It can be tricky.
How do you like going to an all-female school? How has that impacted your experience?
I don’t think it makes a difference just because Morehouse and Clark are connected. It doesn’t bother me at all. It is encouraging being surrounded by other Black women who have the same interests as me. Because of that, I like it actually.
To what extent do people of different sexual orientations mix socially?
I have a lot of gay friends actually and they seem to be my favorite friends [laughs]. At Spelman, people are pretty inclusive of everybody.
How do you like the size of your school in terms of undergraduate enrollment?
I think it’s perfect because it allows the students to really get hands-on experience from the professors. Even when we do group work it’s helpful because it’s easy for us to all contribute our perspectives. The campus also isn’t all that large, so it’s great.
What is the social impact of going to an HBCU?
I think going to an HBCU has helped me come out of my shell because I used to be very shy. As I make new friends, I get to meet their friends, it has made me more of an extrovert than an introvert. I like being around creative students and other intelligent Black students. Being around other Black students helped me grow and be more comfortable in my own skin.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Through the Sister 2 Sister Program, I have a mentor who is helping me find internships for the summer. The alumni network is very interactive and care a lot about the students who are currently at Spelman. It can help a lot for students who are looking for jobs in a specific field that their mentor is in.
What did you use the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I have not used it.
Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
Have you used financial aid? If so, how helpful was the financial aid office?
Financial aid has been very helpful. Sophomore year I had a balance in my account and my mom went to the office and they showed my mom how we could rent a room to a Spelman student and clear that balance.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Spelman before entering as a freshman?
I wish I would have known about the coursework and the workload because freshman year it was tough. I wish I would have known how much time management matters. I also wish I took advantage of more academic resources my freshman year.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
Students don’t have a chance to actually speak with a professor or an advisor about routes they can go while as an undergrad, so if they can possibly do that I think it would be very helpful.
Reasons to attend Spelman College:
1) It’s a growing experience, especially as a Black woman. It’s going to help you evolve into somebody who isn’t afraid to take risks.
2) There are a lot of opportunities for networking and meeting new people who can impact your future.
3) The dorm experience is unique. We have strolling and stuff like that, so that experience is very fun freshman year.
Reasons to not attend Spelman College:
1) The cafeteria food isn’t all that great.