An Interview On
Spelman College

Background

Interview Date:March 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: African-American
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public charter school in Cambridge, MA with a graduating class of about 86 students. There was a culture of going to college, but it was more so the cheaper in-state schools.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Economics with a Business concentration
Minor: Management
Extracurricular Activities: Management Leaders for Tomorrow (MLT), Morehouse Business Association, Spelman Economics, I’m on the board for the Spelman Pre-Alumnae Council, and I recently was on the United Negro College Fund, Spelman College Class Council, and the National Pre-Alumnae Council.

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
All of the leadership roles have helped me figure out myself, challenge myself, and have more insight on what I want to do after college. MLT has been really helpful. It’s a program that helps you connect with companies, get internships, and do professional and personal development. That’s a national organization that I learned about through Spelman.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
It fluctuates. With my major, you can choose the kind of coursework you want. I tend to move away from classes that are essay heavy because I don’t like essays. I have more problem sets and sometimes there are analytical interpretation assignments. Most of the coursework is also self-driven. Our professors will give assignments to do but it isn’t mandatory and you don’t have to turn it in. The grades are mostly based on exams and quizzes and it’s up to you to learn the material and know it to do well in classes.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
They’re getting to a point now where they’re making sure that the work we’re doing is realistic and relatable to the job field. In my Econometrics class, I learned a lot because the examples we were using were related to Beyoncé, music, and statistics. It was relatable and interesting.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
It depends on the class, but, overall, Spelman is definitely more collaborative. Everybody wants to see everybody be successful but I think some classes are more collaborative than others. For some of my classes, we’ll sit in a group and do the assignments together and study together, but for others, it’s more individual. I’ve never gotten a competitive vibe from any of my classes where the culture is that people want to beat others out to be the best.

How accessible are your professors?
Most of my professors are accessible. I use email a lot to communicate with them but I know that some people prefer to go to office hours to meet face to face. That’s harder, especially for upperclassmen, because our schedules usually don’t mesh with the professors. Especially throughout the Economics department, all of my professors use email and have been helpful.

What has been your favorite class in your major?
I’m taking a data analytics course now and we’re learning Python a little bit and it’s less of a lecture-based class and more of a discussion-based class.

Why did you choose your major? Are you happy with your choice so far?
Spelman is a liberal arts school and I am interested in business and finance so I thought the coursework for the Economics major lined up best with the foundation I needed to start a career in finance.

How has going to an HBCU influenced your academic experience?
I definitely think going to an HBCU has allowed me to be my best self and develop into my best self. The culture of support from your peers and professors is great. Also, Spelman is somewhat competitive in that everyone wants to do great things, so I think that pushes you. I’ve always felt that I have to work to do something great. I like that I’m getting top-tier academic knowledge and I’m also learning about myself and what it means to be a Black woman in the world. I like learning that early on instead of figuring it out as I go.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Howard-Harreld Hall with three roommates.

Sophomore: Morehouse-James Hall with one roommate.

Junior: Off-campus apartment with one roommate.

What has been your favorite living situation?
Off-campus, of course. It’s so much more spacious and I have my own bedroom and bathroom.

How was transitioning from Cambridge, MA to Atlanta, GA?
I have family in Atlanta so I always knew that I wanted to go to Atlanta, so I think I was prepared in that aspect. It was nice to not have snow here. Winter does get cold here and I didn’t know that it actually gets cold in Atlanta.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Spelman is very safe, nothing happens within the gates. All the colleges are connected and sometimes I’d hear about something happening at Clark Atlanta but I’ve still never felt unsafe on Spelman’s campus. I’ve never felt like I couldn’t walk around. I also grew up in a big city so I knew that you don’t walk around with your purse open and stuff like that. Some people think the neighborhood is threatening but it’s just about being knowledgeable and vigilant.

Pros and cons of being located in the Atlanta University Center in Atlanta, GA?
Pros:
1) There’s always something going on. We’ve had so many movie screenings and celebrities coming to campus. There’s always something great happening in the AUC.
2) The support. You have thousands of people around you with Morehouse, Clark, and Spelman who are all trying to be successful.
Cons:
1) Sometimes people don’t get out of the AUC. You sometimes forget that you’re in Atlanta and you have to remember to take advantage of everything that’s going on in the city.
2) The AUC is small. It can feel like high school in that if you know somebody the chances are that they know you or know somebody else who knows you.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
Freshman year there was always a big party or a club type thing. I definitely enjoyed that my first year. Now, I’ve been going out and enjoying Atlanta. There are so many restaurants, black-owned businesses, live music, and art galleries to take advantage of. I don’t have classes on Friday, so if I am going out I go out either on Thursday, Friday, Saturday. Now, I go out once every few months. It’s not because there aren’t things to do, I just also work and usually don’t have the energy.

What are some of your favorite events on campus?
People call our library “Club Woody.” When I lived on campus I would just go to the library to see who I bumped into. There are also talent shows and the organizations that are having events.

How happy are you with weekend options at Spelman? Is there anything you would change if you could?
I’m very happy with it. I’m at a new stage where I like more laid-back stuff, so I enjoy hanging out with friends more, but that’s more of a me thing. There are lots of options and things to do.

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
We participated in a Spelman summer program so we technically started school in June. One of my best friends was one of my roommates that summer and my other best friend also participated in that program. We all bonded in that program.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
When people think about Spelman being all women they think there is very little social life, but I would say that’s not the case. When you think about the Spelman social scene you have to think about the AUC social scene, and that is very, very active. There’s always something to do and someone to talk to.

How has going to an HBCU impacted your social experience?
Both going to an all-female school and going to an HBCU has helped me realize my value and what I bring to the table. It’s helped me see that we’re all human but I have a very unique background and history and that adds to who I am and has helped me to be more confident and want to do bigger and better things. I’ve started looking into more [higher up leadership positions in the groups I’m in on campus] and I don’t think that would have happened if I hadn’t attended Spelman. I think if I hadn’t attended Spelman I would be okay with what’s comfortable.

To what extent do people of different sexual orientations mix socially?
Again, when I think about Spelman I think about Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark. Spelman’s acceptance of the LGBT at first was under the radar and not very talked about, but when I got there it became more open and widespread. We have an organization called Afrekete that is really big on campus that is for LGBTQ students, allies, and even has faculty part of it. They host a lot of educational events and events to show support and that kind of thing. Knowledge and understanding about this is something that’s new for Spelman because it was founded as a Christian school. We also recently starting accepting transgender students and that was a big deal. I still think we’re very accepting of LGBTQ people and I have LGBTQ friends. But, there are professors who are still learning and that is because Spelman is so traditional that they haven’t had the opportunity to learn until now.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
My first summer here I got an internship that I found out about through career development because an alum was working there and said that they were hiring. That was the summer after my freshman year and set me on a good footing. This past summer I got the internship on my own but it was in Miami and I didn’t know anyone in Miami. I reached out to the alumni association and they were able to help me find support and people to talk to and hang out with over the summer. Even at the end of the summer when I needed housing I was able to find an alum who had an extra room in her house and I stayed with her for a week which was really awesome.

What did you use the career office for? How helpful have they been?
We’re always having companies visit campus, so I think our career development office does a really good job of having strong companies who are looking for diverse talent come to campus and make us aware of them. I’ve also had opportunities through career development to go out to organizations to get a feel for them and represent Spelman.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
We use a lot of Excel. Stata is another program that we use for statistical programming and also Spelman is trying to incorporate Python so we have knowledge in coding. Spelman also requires that you take a [Computer Literacy requirement] for you to graduate so everyone has some knowledge.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Spelman before entering as a freshman?
When you make the choice to go to an all-female school it is a little intimidating at first and you get a lot of feedback from people who don’t understand the benefit of it. I wish I would have known that Spelman is so full of opportunities and that when I signed up for Spelman I was not just going to get a good education but I also would learn what it means to be a Black woman in the world and how to be my best self.

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
I never went, but people really like the accepted students weekend because they get to see the actual interaction between the girls and get a feel for that Spelman sisterly vibe.

Reasons to attend Spelman College:
1) It’s the number one HBCU, so that speaks for itself. It’s the only place where you can get a top education and also learn about what it means to be a Black woman in the world.
2) It’s a super motivating environment and everyone around you has done great things and wants to do great things. It’s encouraging for your future.
3) The number of opportunities here.
4) The connection with Morehouse. That’s our brother school and that connection is a little stronger than with Clark Atlanta. Having that connection with Morehouse and the AUC is cool.

Reasons to not attend Spelman College:
1) I do think Spelman doesn’t fit for everyone. If you’re somebody who doesn’t want to have an impact on the world, I don’t think Spelman is the right place for you.

Notice: Spelman College is a trademark. Induck uses it for descriptive purposes, not to imply affiliation with, endorsement from, or sponsorship by Spelman College.

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