An Interview On
Spelman College

Background

Interview Date:April 2019

Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: African-American
Sexual Orientation: Bisexual
Graduation Year: 2020
High School Experience: Public school in Philadelphia, PA with a graduating class of about 300 students.
First Generation College Student: Yes
Major: Mathematics
Minor: None
Extracurricular Activities: National Council for Negro Women (NCNW)

Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience?
It had a good impact. I appreciate the goal of NCNW, which is to do things in the community, so we might be volunteering together or we might go visit children and talk about the importance of school and things of that nature.

Academic Experience

Can you describe the weekly coursework for your major?
Usually, there’s always a quiz on Friday and the give us homework problems. When you get to the upper-level classes it’s on you to do them so you can have a better understanding of the material and do better on the exams.

Is there anything you feel your major’s department does especially well or poorly?
They do not take into consideration the struggle of the student per se. There are office hours and things of that nature, but I don’t think our opinions in terms of our professor’s teaching styles or any concerns we raise. For example, there is a professor who doesn’t work at Spelman anymore, and everyone in the class was doing poorly which I don’t think is a reflection of the students’ work ethic. We went to the chair of the department and told them about the teaching style and our struggle and had to decide whether to drop the class or stay in it. I failed it and had to retake it.

How would you describe the learning environment? Do you think it’s particularly competitive or collaborative?
In certain aspects, it’s collaborative in terms of students working together to come to an understanding. I don’t think the Mathematics department is particularly competitive. It’s not like we’re trying to hide our homework answers from each other or anything.

How accessible are your professors?
They are accessible. They do make known what their office hours are. Sometimes, because professors teach multiple classes, we run into a jam during their office hours, but they also provide a way for you to meet with them one on one if you need.

What has been your favorite class you’ve taken for your major?
Foundation of Mathematics, which is one of the entry-level courses for a Math major.

How has going to an HBCU impacted your academic experience?
I think it has had quite an impact. I do not know what I would be doing if I had not attended an HBCU. To me, an HBCU allows me to be the majority for once, which is something I appreciate. Also, going to an all-women HBCU is a plus because, to me, Black women aren’t idolized or praised as much as they should be. Being around Black women who are striving towards excellence is something that will always be memorable for my experience.

On and Around Campus

Where have you lived on campus?
Freshman: Howard-Harreld Hall, which is the largest freshman dorm, with one roommate.

Sophomore: Living and Learning Center 1 with one roommate.

Junior: Off-campus apartment with one roommate.

How was transitioning from Philadelphia to Atlanta in terms of location?
I like to consider Atlanta to be more of a country-city, and getting around is not as easy. Things also close pretty early here. I don’t have any family down here but I didn’t get homesick. It was just an adjustment in terms of traveling and finding viable food sources because unfortunately, my college is in a food desert.

Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
Thankfully, I’ve never come across any dangerous situations. Spelman has shuttle services where they’ll pick you. I feel like there are enough resources around to make me feel safe.

Pros and cons of being located in the Atlanta University Center in Atlanta, GA?
Pros:
1) The weather.
2) I like the people down here.

Cons:
1) Traveling down here is not easy for me.

Social Opportunities

What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in?
I’m so boring. I like to read and do some yoga on the weekends. The weekends are the most time that I do have to do those things.

What kinds of activities do you like to do with your friends?
We just like to hang out together in the house.

What are some of your favorite events on campus to go to?
We have Market Fridays where different vendors come to campus. If I’m up for it, I’ll swing by and see if they’re selling anything that I like.

If at all, how has being LGBT influenced your weekend options?
I haven’t been the most open about that. It can be iffy on Spelman’s campus, especially because you have to take into people’s preferred pronouns, which was new to me my freshman year, so I haven’t engaged in the community very much. People are pretty open to it, but there are some instances where people might do one thing and they say another or say one thing to your face and something else behind your back, so I stay away from it all. [See Blavity.com article, “‘F**k You Freaks’: Homophobia Strikes Spelman’s Campus And Answers Are Demanded.”]

Campus Culture

How did you meet your closest friends?
Sadly, I only have three close friends on campus. One is from my hometown, one of them I met through my major and have been taking the same classes at the same time, and the other I went on the study abroad trip to Germany.

How would you describe the overall social scene?
It’s something in which you have to be cautious because a lot of people tend to get wrapped up in image and wanting to portray certain things. To me, you have to be conscious of that and pick things that genuinely fit you or describe you and not conform to anyone’s standard. It can be image-driven and people get caught up in that.

To what extent do people of different sexual orientations mix socially?
People do mix. Nobody is necessarily judgmental so you will see some LGBTQ members with some people who deem themselves straight. There isn’t much exclusion. Overall, there’s no disrespect but if somebody feels a certain way about LGBT people they probably keep that to their friend group.

What is the impact of Greek life on campus? To what extent do people in Greek life and not in Greek life mix socially?
Like the social scene, you have to be careful because Greek life is an image so a lot of people strive for that image. For some people, that’s their main focus and they don’t know how to survive if they [don’t get a bid]. People in Greek life are friendly and blend in with others.

How do you like the size of Spelman in terms of undergraduate enrollment? How has that impacted your experience? [There are about 2,100 students.]
It’s fairly small. My high school to me was small and I like that I see similar faces on campus a lot, even if I don’t know their names.

How would you describe the LGBTQ community? How strong is it?
I want to say it’s strong because we have a club but I’ve never inquired into it. From what I’ve seen, the club is strong in terms of their bond.

Do you think people are generally happy with their choice of Spelman by senior year? Do you think people leave loving Spelman?
In general, yes. I think that Spelman has a lot to offer, both good and bad, and by the time you’re a senior you have evaluated both and have determined the good outweighs the bad enough so they appreciate their experience.

Careers

Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
No, I don’t necessarily know how to go about using it. I know that is something I need to inquire about by my senior year.

What did you use the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I haven’t used it yet. Everything I’ve done so far has been on my own.

Have you learned any computer programs that will be helpful to you professionally?
I’ve learned Matlab and Maple. I also took a Computer Science class to expand my horizons and learned Python too.

Financial Aid

Have you used financial aid? If so, how easy is the office to work with?
I use financial aid. The financial aid office is pretty accessible. You do have to be your own advocate with keeping up with things and making sure everything will be on time. In general, they are accessible and if you go in and tell them what’s going on they will give you an answer.

Advice for Prospective Freshmen

What is something you wish you knew about Spelman before entering as a freshman?
I wish I knew how different people were. It was shocking my freshman year to learn how different people thought, but I’ve had to understand that everybody comes from different paths and backgrounds so their thought processes aren’t going to be the same as mine. For example, I was raised not to curse around your elders and then you meet people who don’t have the same respect. [Spelman students come from 43 different states and 10 foreign countries.]

What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that is worth checking out?
The department they’re interested in. Go to the building and see the list of professors so you can do your own research before entering that major.

Reasons to attend Spelman College:
1) The fact it’s an HBCU.
2) The fact that it’s an all women school
3) The network is good if you explore it.

Reasons to not attend Spelman College:
1) It’s very easy to get engulfed in certain aspects of Spelman’s social life and certain friend groups that skew your judgment. It can feel like a popularity contest.
2) Don’t come to Spelman if you don’t know how to self-advocate. No one is necessarily going to speak for you. Spelman is very individualistic in that sense.

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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