24th Apr2016

Kandace Walker – Lane College – 2015

by Staff

“I chose my HBCU because of its rich history. Also one of the many great things about Lane College is that it creates the true sense of Family.”

Kandace Walker - Lane College - 2015

Kandace Walker of Lane College, Class of 2015 | Image Credit: Kandace Walker

Name
Kandace Walker

Your HBCU?
Lane College

Graduation Year?
2015

Where are you from? Who introduced you to HBCUs?
I am from Bolivar TN. I was introduced to HBCU’s through multiple family members, most of them being TSU graduates.

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

I chose my HBCU because of its rich history. Also one of the many great things about Lane College is that it creates the true sense of Family.

Major? Why did you choose it?

Kandace Walker - Lane College - 2015

Kandace Walker hard at work! | Image Credit: Kandace Walker

I chose to major in Mass communications because it has always been my dream to communicate with the public on a larger scale.

What is the story of your “experience” at Your HBCU given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious institution?

Kandace Walker - Lane College - 2015

Kandace Walker showing her love for Lane College!| Image Credit: Kandace Walker

As a freshman, I was a little apprehensive about attending Lane College because it was so close to home. Being the shy and timid person that I once was, it took me a while to adapt to the environment however after meeting a few very influential people, that soon changed. Before I knew it, I had come out of my shell.

Winning first runner up in the Miss Lane pageant as well as the Miss Black and Gold pageant in 2014 I had become a social butterfly. I also became an avid volunteer and was elected treasurer of my campuses NAACP chapter and Mass communications club.

Who are the professors that have impacted your life in and out of the classroom? How did they do that?

The woman who inspired me the most was Mrs. Virginia Crump. A lady of many hats, and a force to be reckoned with, she motivated me to be all that I can be a true “mover and a shaker”. I could also never forget Mr. Kirkendoll,Dr. Jackson,Mr. Johnson and Ms. Graves.

Questions about Mass Comm? Lane College? Ask Kandace! 

Instagram:K_lanice
Facebook: Kandace Lanice Walker
Photography Ig:K.lanice_photography

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22nd Apr2016

Justin Robinson – Lane College – 2018

by Staff

“My experience here a Lane College has been great so far. I really like the small class sizes and the one on one learning that I can get with my professors. Being here gave me different look on life.”

Justin Robinson - Lane College - 2018

Justin Robinson of Lane College, Class of 2018|Image Credit: Justin Robinson

Name
Justin Robinson

Your HBCU?
Lane College

Graduation Year?
2018

Where are you from? Who introduced you to HBCUs?
I’m from The Eastside of Detroit,MI. My High School counselor

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?
It’s motivational being around people that look like me and who want to be Great

Major? Why did you choose it?
Mass Communication. I really want to go in to Television & Radio. When I was younger I always wanted to be a sports analyst on ESPN.

What is the story of your “experience” at Lane College given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious institution?

Justin Robinson Lane College 2018

Red Carpet interview at SGAs 2nd Annual Student Choice Awards| Image Credit: Justin Robinson

My experience here a Lane College has been great so far. I really like the small class sizes and the one on one learning that I can get with my professors. Being here gave me different look on life.

Who are the professors that have impacted your life in and out of the classroom? How did they do that?

Ms. Nicole Anderson & Dr. Barbara Perry. They have really been in my corner to help me become great. I know I can always count on them. When my brother passed away almost 2 months ago they stayed checking on me to see how I was doing. It’s been a hard 2 months & they really have been there helping me and making sure I’m okay.

Justin Robinson - Lane College - 2018

Justin posted up on campus!|Image Credit: Justin Robinson

Questions about Lane College? Ask Justin!

Instagram: @SwirveJayy
Twitter: @SwirveJayy
Facebook: Jayy Robinson

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18th Apr2016

Dominique Earl – Lane College – 2016

by Staff

“My experience at my HBCU will be the most outstanding experience I ever had! I wouldn’t regret going to Lane college, the education is awesome, the new president came in and changed so much and gave so much in to Lane.” – Dominique Earl

- The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.

“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” | Image Credit: Dominique Earl , Lane College c/o ’16

Your HBCU?
Lane College

Graduation Year?
2016

Where are you from? Who introduced you to HBCUs?

I’m from Memphis,Tn. Who introduced me to my HBCU called Lane College?

Well I never heard of Lane till my senior year when they came to our college fair and I was playing softball all my years in high school. My coach told me that lane is a great school and the softball team is good too! So I end up calling the coach and talking with him and so I looked more in it, I thank softball for introducing me to my HBCU that I love so much!

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

Why did I pick a HBCU over a pwi? Well to be honest all my family members went to HBCU schools and I thought HBCU schools would have been a great opportunity so I decided to take that chance!

Major? Why did you choose it?

My major is BUSINESS ! Reason for choosing a great major like that, I wanna be a BOSS ! People ask me all the time why you choose business what do you plan on doing ! I plan on being a boss, I plan on owning two business of my own,managing a athletic business and more. I have big plans!

What is the story of your “experience” at Lane College given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious institution?

My experience at my HBCU will be the most outstanding experience I ever had! I wouldn’t regret going to Lane college, the education is awesome, the new president came in and changed so much and gave so much in to Lane. I must say President Hampton is the man! I had my hard times but God made sure I turned them around to the most best times ever!

“First time” experiences at your HBCU?

I must say my first time experiences, well one was my freshman orientation! My class coming in was great we enjoyed everyday and every bit of time we spent over the summer at lane. We did activities and learned more at the school!

- Stars can't shine with out darkness.

“Stars can’t shine with out darkness.”| Image Credit: Dominique Earl

My second experience is when I did something I never thought I would do. A lot of my friends knew me as the goof ball or your so pretty you can dress, but never knew I was so shy! I was called to be in the school fashion show I felt honored to do it. I was scared out my life till my friends supported me all the way and I did my thang in it to! After that my shyness was gone! I thank my HBCU for taking away one of my fears.

Who are the professors that have impacted your life in and out of the classroom? How did they do that?

I must say Professor A. Jones is my best professor ever. He changed a lot and never gave up on me. He knew I tried my best and he knew when I didn’t try my best but he knew I had something in me. He put me in things and talked with me and encouraged me to keep my head up. I really give him all the props in the world!

Name some friends and/or family in your circle that have attended an HBCU (Historically Black(Nubian) College or University). Which colleges did they attend?

My granddaddy attended TSU and my two bestfriends attended Lane College.

From your response above, what is the most memorable story they have told you in regards to their HBCU experience?

One thing they have told me at my HBCU is that, they treat you like family and I must say they make sure of that.

If you had to choose, which HBCU family would you be a part of? And why?

I wouldn’t want to be apart of any other college than my OWN HBCU !

What sports do/did you play at your HBCU? What positions?

"Sometimes I pretend normal. But then it gets boring. So I go back to being me." | Image Credit: Dominique Earl

“Sometimes I pretend normal. But then it gets boring. So I go back to being me.” | Image Credit: Dominique Earl

I played softball, I played all my years for Lane. I was second base and I was right and left field!

Sports accomplishments? (records, medals, articles, et cetera)

My record was great my time at lane and I showed my butt my junior and senior year my experience was great and the coaches was great I don’t regret playing. We got trophies and went to playoff I do miss playing.

Questions about Lane? Respectfully ask Dominique!

Instagram: NeneNichole
Facebook: Dominique Nichole Earl
Email: dominiqueearl93@gmail.com

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14th Jan2014

Lamar Allen – Fisk University 2016

by Staff

Detroit native, Lamar Allen of Fisk University (Class of 2016) shares his HBCU Experience, how he accessed thousands in scholarship money, and why he chose an HBCU.

Lamar Allen - Fisk University 2016

Lamar Allen of Fisk University (Class of 2016) | Image Credit: Lamar Allen

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

I always wanted to attend an HBCU. During high school, I had been on two spring HBCU tours; touring some of the nation’s finest Historically black colleges and universities.

At one point, I was truly enthusiastic about attending an Ivy League school, but I chose to stick with my original educational plan; attend an HBCU for undergraduate studies, then strive to attend an Ivy League institution for graduate studies.

It was a decision that many disagreed with, but I then realized that I was the one living with my decision for the years to come. If I am happy with it, then that is all that matters.

What city are you from? Who introduced you to the greatness of HBCUs?

I am a native of Detroit, MI. Being a graduate of a high school flooded with staff who are HBCU alumni is what introduced me to HBCUs. Many of them graduated from top notch universities including Fisk University (#FiskFOREVER), Morehouse College, Tennessee State University, Central State University, Alabama State University, Hampton University, Tuskegee University, and so forth.

Seeing their HBCU pride and “play rivalry” with each other was just a hint of the HBCU greatness, but hearing how HBCUs made each of them stronger and unique in their own way gave me a look at how great HBCUs are.

How did you decide to become a student at Fisk University?

Scholarship

Feel free to elaborate…

I applied to and was admitted into five HBCUs:

Johnson C. Smith University
Morehouse College
Fisk University
Tuskegee University
Philander Smith College

I narrowed my decision down to two schools contingent upon familiarity: Morehouse (my first choice), and Fisk. My goal was to not have to pay for college, so I played the “scholarship” game. Which ever institution awarded me the most money in scholarships, I would attend that institution.

Between both schools, Fisk offered me the most scholarships. I had won an approximate of $30,000 worth of scholarships from different organizations in Detroit, partnered with a $80,000 (over four years) scholarship award from Fisk. It was a true blessing. I am currently attending college free of cost with no loans attached, thanks to Fisk and various organizations in Detroit, MI.

Which professors are leaving the most impression upon your academic and personal life? What do they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

All of my business professors leave a huge impression on me, simply because they are professors who truly care about enhancing students academically. Professor Cargill (Accounting), Professor Umontuen (Marketing), Professor Cambranero (Micro-Economics), and Professor McNamee (Business Law) all made sure that I had the tools necessary to succeed in their classes by lending a helping hand when needed, and directing me to resources that would help make me successful.

What is the story of your “HBCU experience” at Fisk University?

This is my first year at Fisk, so my story is currently in its beginning stage. I am definitely certain that as I grow and gain more experiences here on campus, my HBCU experience will be legendarily and uniquely crafted.

What is your major? Why did you choose it?

I am currently a business administration major. I always had an interest in business. The only problem I had was choosing a concentration. Since I was familiar with accounting, I chose to make accounting a concentration of mine. Although my accounting classes can be quite difficult at times, I tend to enjoy them.

This summer, I plan to intern with an accounting firm to get an actually feel for the field. That way, if I don’t like it, I will have time to switch my concentration.

How does your HBCU help you to transition into your careers workforce?

Fisk is always providing students with opportunities, especially internships. Fisk faculty, staff, and alumni are always keeping the students informed on various internships that will prepare students for the specified occupations of their choice.

I am grateful to be a student at a university that continuously informs and provides students with opportunities that will enrich their future. There are faculty and alumni who know of my plan to intern at an accounting firm this summer. Ever since, they have kept me aware of opportunities to help make my goal possible.

How does your HBCU prepare you for a diverse workplace?

I was recently accepted into Fisk’s Exceptional Confidence in Emerging Leaders (EXCEL) Professional Development Program. This program is designed to prepare students professionally, guaranteeing that students will complete the program with refined professional skills, confidence, and adequate competencies.

Topics that we will cover in this program include personal branding, effective communication, business etiquette, etc. I am certain that after completing this ten week program, I will be prepared to work in a diverse workplace.

Where is the “yard” located?

The “yard” is located right in front of Jubilee and Spence Hall. It is actually where I experienced my first block party here on campus!

Where are the historical places on campus? Are there any ghost stories involving buildings or spots on campus?

Fisk University, Jubilee Hall

One of the most historical buildings on campus is Jubilee Hall, the freshmen female living learning center. I have heard stories from some of my classmates regarding ghosts in the dormitory, but very few.

What are the best restaurants on and near campus? Favorite dishes?

There is a restaurant down Jefferson St. called Knock Out Wings. I love their chicken tenders, and they have some of the best biscuits I have ever tasted in my life!

There is also another restaurant named Jack’s BBQ. Their BBQ is delicious! They also have really great tasting sides and desserts to add zest to your meal.

How many “firsts” have you had at college ? What were they? (e.g. first road trip, first job interview, first love, first “F or A”, etc.)

I did not have many “firsts” last semester. However, the most exciting “first” was seeing an actual fraternity probate! It was seriously an exciting experience. From that moment, I began to feel the “HBCU experience” kick in.

What advice would you give high school students filling out college applications for the first time?

Please, do not stress yourself out! I understand that the process can become tiring, especially if you are applying to more than one university. Trust and believe me, it all works out for the good.

Also, if you aren’t sure about something on the application, take great advantage of your high school counselor or contact someone in admissions department of the university in which you choose to apply. Either one of them should be more than wiling to provide insightful advice to help you complete your college applications. You are not alone!

How are you positively active on your college campus? What about in high school?

I am a young man that believes in well roundedness. Top notch academics are beautiful, but a student who is academic, participates in extra-curricular activities, and contributes to the community by servicing is stellar. When I was in high school, I was very active.

I was the sergeant at arms for my school’s NHS Chapter, the Vice President of our Gentlemen’s Club, Senior Class President, and a member of many other organizations.

I also took dual enrollment during high school, gaining 29 college credits from both Wayne County Community College and Harvard University. Fisk accepted 25 of them, allowing me to advance to being a second semester sophomore this semester.

When I arrived to Fisk, my beliefs of being a well rounded student did not change. I am currently a member of various organizations on campus, including currently serving as freshmen class president of my class (elected before advancing to sophomore year). Although I am a sophomore credit wise, I am still a freshman at heart. I love my Class of 2017 family.

It is with my genuine and honest will to serve that allows me to act positively on campus, helping to enhance the college experience of my classmates.

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

“Keep God first, and keep your faith. Your trials may be difficult, but your blessings will be everlasting.”

Questions about Fisk University? Need help locating scholarships? Contact Lamar!!

Email: lamar.allen@my.fisk.edu
Social Networks: Facebook: Lamar Matthew Allen

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29th Dec2013

MacKenzie Milon – Fisk University – 2016

by Staff

From growing up near the hometown of legend Michael Jackson to leading her HBCUs’ volleyball team; MacKenzie Milon speaks on her Fisk University experience and how it all came to be. 

MacKenzie Milon - Fisk University - 2016 2

Proud HBCU Student – Athlete, MacKenzie Milon of Fisk University (c/o ’16)| Image Credit: MacKenzie Milon

Where are you from? Who introduced you to HBCUs back in the day?

I am from Merrillville, Indiana, which is a few minutes away from Michael Jackson’s hometown-Gary, Indiana, and an hour away from Chicago, Illinois. My mother briefly introduced me to HBCUs when I was first starting high school.

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

I chose an HBCU over a pwi because of the historical reputation of academic excellence that many colleges and universities have.

No matter where I go, when adults ask me where I go to school and I tell them Fisk University, I don’t need to go into further detail about my HBCU because many already know the kind of education Fisk has to offer.

How did you decide to become a student at Fisk University?

I decided to become a student at Fisk University for two reasons. I was recruited to play volleyball for Fisk University on a scholarship. The team had only been in existence for a few years and I wanted to be apart of a team that could build up the reputation of athletics at Fisk.

The other reason why I decided to go to Fisk University was because I knew that even if I was never able to play volleyball again, at least I would be at an university where I could grow not only academically but personally. I felt confident that once I graduated in four years that I would never have to worry about being hired for a job because I had ‘Fisk University’ on my resume.

What professors at Fisk University are leaving the most impression upon you as a person and student? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

Although this person is not a professor at Fisk University, he works in the admissions building and is my assistant volleyball coach, Patrick Gonzalez. This year, 2013, was my first year I met him and I have learned so much from him in such a short period of time.

Not only does he inspire me on the volleyball court, but I can talk to him about anything outside of volleyball. He is a very intellectual individual, & I do consider him my mentor. He has taught me a lot about how I can become a better leader, which is what Fisk University also strives to build in each student that studies there.

What is the story of your “experience” to date at Fisk University given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious institution?

Coming into Fisk University in 2012 my faith wasn’t as strong as it could be. I didn’t realize how having strong faith can get a person through tough times in their lives when sometimes you just can’t turn to anybody.

Surrounding myself which some wonderful group of friends, and going to church with them every Sunday, I was able to learn so much about my life, how to become a better friend and how having such a strong spiritual background can make all the difference when life doesn’t seem to go the way you planned.

Fisk University is also known for its strong religious background, and I felt that from my first year there.

How does your HBCU help you to transition into your careers workforce?

Fisk University helps students make an easy transition into the workforce by making students aware of internships or different opportunities available depending on your specific major. Many times your counselor will email you and inform you of upcoming internships opportunities which is always helpful.

How does your HBCU prepare you for a diverse workplace?

One thing that I appreciate about Fisk University is that they are trying to diversify the campus more and more each year. I am seeing more races other than African Americans coming to the university, which not only helps students learn how to work with many different kinds of people but it also shows the outside world that Fisk University has more than African American students.

What are the best restaurants on and near the campus? Which dishes do you enjoy the most?

MacKenzie Milon - Fisk University - 2016 4

After your visit to Fisk University, stop by Knockout Wings!! | Image Credit: Kim F. of Yelp

My favorite wing place that is walking distance from Fisk is called Knock Out wings. My favorite wings to get there are the honey barbecue wings with blue cheese, and the biscuits are AMAZING. They are more famous for their biscuits than anything.’

What are the chants heard most often at the sporting events?

At the end of basketball games, if we know we already won with minutes left on the clock, students will pull out car keys, dorm keys, or any type of keys and chant “Beep beep beep! You better go start the bus!” to the other team until they walk off the court.

How did you overcome your nervousness about going to college?

I overcame my nervousness about going to college by continuing to tell myself ‘I can do this’. I made it this far (I graduated high school), this is just one more big step in life that I will conquer.

What is your major? and Why did you choose it?

My major is psychology. I chose to study psychology because I love observing peoples behaviors and I have a curiosity of figuring out why people act the way they act.

What to date has been your proudest moment @  Fisk University?

My proudest moment at my HBCU took place this year when we, the Fisk volleyball team, became #1 in the Eastern Division of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, and placed third in the Conference tournament in Little Rock, AR.

What to date has been your saddest moment @  Fisk University?

My saddest moment at my HBCU was when my grandmother passed away. She passed away in the Fall of 2012, and I received the news right before a home volleyball game.

How are you positively active on campus? (e.g. clubs, SGA, etc.)

MacKenzie Milon - Fisk University - 2016 1

MacKenzie Milon leading her team to victory at Fisk University | Image Credit: MacKenzie Milon

I am the captain on the Fisk University volleyball team.

Where is the “yard” located?

The “yard” is located right in front of Spence Hall, which is our dining hall.

What and where are the historical places on campus?

One of the most famous buildings on campus is Jubilee Hall which now holds all incoming freshman females. Jubilee Hall was built for the well-known 1871 Jubilee Singers.

Did you know that Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium was named in honor of outstanding Fisk athlete, coach, dean of men and director of physical education. |Image Credit: hbcudigitallibrary.auctr.edu/

Did you know that Henderson A. Johnson Gymnasium was “named in honor of outstanding Fisk athlete, coach, dean of men and director of physical education.” |Image Credit: hbcudigitallibrary.auctr.edu/

Also, our only gymnasium on campus-Henderson A. Johnson gymnasium, is where Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke.

Are there any ghost stories involving buildings or spots on campus?

No

What is your process when you are going through a hardship that you have never faced before?

If I am facing a problem that I have never faces before I pray about it and called my mother, father, and depending on the situation, sometimes a coach.

What advice would you give high school students filling out college applications for the first time?

The advice that I would give to student who are filling out college applications for the first time is before filling out an application for a school do your research.

Before applying to Fisk University I searched their academic rankings. Students should not worry about how big the school is or, how good their football team is, ect.

The only thing that matters in the end is your education, parents work long days and nights for the first 17 plus years of our lives so that we can hopefully go to college and get the best education we can, parents don’t pay thousands of dollars each year and semester so their children can party.

Questions about Fisk? About completing your college application? Respectfully contact MacKenzie below:

Facebook:  MacKenzie Milon, Instagram: _kenzierene
Email Address: mmilon94@att.net

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15th Dec2013

Mary (Mimi) Hernandez – Fisk University ’62

by Staff

Come learn about the HBCU Experience years ago with Mary (Mimi) Hernandez; A Proud Graduate of Fisk University, Class of 1962. There is a lot of wisdom to be had, so take heed!

Mary (Mimi) Hernandez – Fisk University 62 1

Proud HBCU Alum, Mary (Mimi) Hernandez of Fisk University 62 | Image Credit: Mary (Mimi) Hernandez

Why did you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

I was planning to get married and my parents were ABSOLUTELY opposed, so my parents took me to Fisk (where many of their friends were employed) and enrolled me. However, I have to say several of my favorite relatives , family friends and teachers were graduates of Fisk.

Where are you from? When you were younger who introduced you to the greatness that is HBCUs?

I was born in Nashville, Tn. and because my father was a physician and in the Army during WWII, had lived in Tennessee, Arizona, Puerto Rico and Alabama by the time I was 14.

My maternal grandfather talked about his days at Tuskegee and how much he learned and enjoyed during his time there. He spoke of meeting Booker T. Washington. My aunt, cousins and family friends who attended Fisk spoke of the great education, faculty and friends that they received and made during their student years.

How did you decide to become a student at Fisk University?

Family Legacy

Which professors at left the most impression upon your academic and personal life? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

Aaron Douglas, Robert Hayden, Cerelle Warfield, John Cottin, William Dawson and so many more who taught me were ALWAYS expecting the very best from each of their students.

They knew your name as you crossed the yard, asked about family members they knew and/or had taught. So it was an extension of the family circle where excuses were NEVER accepted and your very best was ALWAYS expected.

What is the story of your “HBCU experience” at Fisk University?

My HBCU experience is one where doing your best was expected. It was striving to learn and applying that learning to life. It was about loyalty, love and support. I have classmates who are friends with whom I am in touch frequently even 50+ years after graduating from Fisk.

We reminisce about the past, talk about the present and ponder about the future.

How did your HBCU prepare you for a diverse workplace?

I was taught first by my family then by faculty that no matter where you are or what you are doing, you always do your best.

How did your HBCU help you to transition into your careers workforce?

When I started working, I was never afraid to ask questions, although I often had to preface it by stating I was seeking clarification. When I made an error in judgement I accepted responsibility (and that was a surprise to supervisors).

One question I always asked potential staff members was “where do you want to be in 5 years and how can I help you get there?” This helped them understand I was there to mentor and guide them, not to judge adversely.

What was your major? and Why did you choose it?

I applied as a Music major, enrolled as an English major and graduated as a Spanish and French major. I was bi-lingual because we had lived in Puerto Rico for 8 years and my parents wanted us to learn about his heritage as well as my maternal heritage.

How did you overcome your nervousness that first year?

Because a number of my friends were at Fisk I was not particularly nervous my first year in school. Also, having lived in different places, I was fairly comfortable meeting new people and making friends.

What were the best restaurants on and near campus? Favorite dishes?

White’s for fish sandwiches, Mary’s for barbecue, Collier’s. Unfortunately, neither Collier’s nor White’s are open and the barbecue at Mary’s does not taste the same.

Who was your college crush? Where were the spots to go to if you wanted to cuddle?

Not going there!

How were you positively active on your college campus? What about in high school?

I was a member of a great high school sorority where service was stressed. I joined the Fisk Choir, Newman Club and eventually pledged my Sorority in college.

What advice would you give high school students filling out college applications for the first time?

Be honest, make sure you describe coursework and activities in which you participated.

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

Be proud of who you are and strive to be the best. Be loyal to your undergraduate school, it helped you achieve your goals in life!

Questions about completing your college application? About interacting with your professors? Respectfully contact Mary!

Email: mnh1940@aol.com

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06th Dec2013

Ayo Thomas – Fisk University ’11

by Staff

Ayo Thomas, Proud Fisk University Alumnus (c/o ’11) takes us on a beautiful journey regarding her HBCU Experience. She speaks on the legacy of HBCUs in her family, how she was introduced to FiskU, common apps, and much more.

Ayo Thomas - Fisk University '11 3

Proud HBCU Alum & AKA, Ayo Thomas of Legendary Fisk University ’11 3

Where are you from? How did you first hear about HBCUs?

Born and raised in Detroit, MI. My parent’s went to the same HBCU (NCCU) as well as my aunts (Tuskegee, and U.DC) and my cousin (also U.DC)

What made you choose an HBCU over a pwi?

What made me choose an HBCU, Fisk specifically was an opportunity I had to sit in on an the Detroit Fisk Alumni meeting. It was summer after senior year, and I thought I had already made up my mind.

There was an older gentleman who heard I had applied to Fisk, where he had graduated from in the 50’s, and he took me under his wing. He made sure that I was at this meeting. To date, I have never heard a group of alum of ANY school (PWI, HBCU, or otherwise) speak about their Alma Mater the way I hear people talk about Fisk after their experience there. I knew after that day, that Fisk is where I wanted to be.

How did you decide to become a student at Fisk University ?

I think I probably answered this question in my story above. Outside of the application process. That was my deciding factor.

What professors at Fisk University left the most impression upon you as a student and/or person? What did they do that continues to mean so much to you to this day?

Hm…..Because Fisk is so small I typically had the same professors year after year. I have a love and appreciation for each of the individually AND collectively.

Ayo Thomas - Fisk University '11 1

“Fisk’s Isaac Thompson Nominated as Finalist for 2009 Cable Leaders in Learning Award” | Image Credit: fiskuniversity.wordpress.com

But…. I think that if I had to pinpoint a particular member of the Fisk staff that left the most impression it would be Mr. Isaac Thompson. He’s been a surrogate father, mentor, advisor. He’s amazing! everyone should have the opportunity to build a relationship with someone like him. Especially during “the college years”

What is the story of your “experience” to date at Fisk University given its heralded status as a stellar and prestigious institution?

My experience was GREAT. I was proactive in making sure that whatever type of experience I wanted to have during my four years, I had it. I was active, involved, truly having a Fisk experience, and enjoyed every minute of it!

This doesn’t mean it was always happy, nor fun. But it was Fisk. I truly LOVE my alma mater and everything that means about my life over an entire matriculation.The individual stories, which are probably more interesting, are better for conversation. They take time.

How did your HBCU prepare you for a diverse workplace?

Fisk helped me to see that diversity really has nothing to do with skin color, contrary to popular misconception. Fisk allowed be to be aware of the differences rooted in race, but to focus more on differences of personality, culture, belief system, nationality, etc…

How did your HBCU help you to transition into your careers workforce?

Fisk helped me to transition into the workforce by emphasizing the importance of critical thinking,balancing that capability with a polished delivery, and a receptiveness to ideas outside of my own.

Where were the spots to go to if you wanted to cuddle with your boy or girlfriend?

People went to their rooms or their houses! lol. But there are some nice spots around Nashville like Centennial Park and “top of Nashville”, those were some nice spots.

What were the best restaurants on and near campus? Which dishes did you enjoy the most?

Ayo Thomas - Fisk University '11 2

“Cupcakes & Icings Made Fresh Daily Minus Unnecessary Artificiality” | Image Credit: facebook.com

Knockout wings! Definitely. Monell’s, The Garden Brunch Cafe, and Cupcake Collection (even though it’s not quite a restaurant). I mean there are other restaurants, with good food. But these 4 were a staple.

What were the chants heard most often at the sporting events?

“people in the front!” and “do it, do it, do it, do it, do it” or….”FIS-K UNI-VERS-ITY…Fisk Forever” There were so more but those were the main ones, I think.

Who was your College crush?: LOL! Oh goodness…. Who I was interested in changed based on my mindset over the years.

How did you overcome your nervousness about going to college?

I overcame the nervousness of college, by going to college. LOL. If i spent my time waiting until I was ready to go. I’d probably still be waiting.

What was your major? and Why did you choose it?

My major was Business Administration concentrating in International Business Relations. I chose that because I love the idea of international travel, and because it helps to give me a great foundation for my greater career goals.

What was your proudest moment @ Fisk University ?

My proudest moment? That’s a difficult one, there are so many.

Probably graduation because it was the culmination of years of experiences that brought me into adulthood. I love Fisk, but graduation symbolized moving into a new part of my life, everything that seemed separate, was connected and it had made me who I was, and I was ready to go forward.

What was your saddest moment @ Fisk University ?

My saddest moment, was…… probably seeing my friends deal with grief and heartache. That kind of thing makes me sad. I had my own situations and circumstances, but that kind of thing will put minor issues into perspective.

What did you pledge? And why? And if not, why not?

I am a Spring 11 initiate of The FINE Pi chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.

Why?

Because there was no other way. I knew what Alpha Kappa Alpha meant to me as far as womanhood, being a lady, my life and I knew what Fine Pi represented. I knew that is where I belonged, thankfully someone else saw it possible.

How were you positively active on campus? (e.g. clubs, SGA, etc.)

I was VERY involved on campus. In retrospect, I probably could have done a few less things and then had more impact in a couple of concentrated areas instead.

I was on Ladies of R.A.G.E. dance team. Women of Perfection service organization. Student Ambassadors, served on a few campus even committees, Miss Black and Gold court, Program volunteer, and many other things over my 4 years.

Where was the “yard” located?

The yard was in the center of campus. Our campus is shaped like an ankh with dorms on both ends the “neutral ground”, if you will, was the yard.

What and where were the historical places on campus?

Our whole campus is history, literally. I could talk about the buildings like Jubilee Hall or the Memorial Chapel, but it really would not do our campus justice. Every time you meet an alum who was on campus before you. History. Convocations. History.

The experience of Fisk, is history. Whether we were making it, living it or hearing about it. It literally was all around us.

Are there any ghost stories involving buildings or spots on campus?

They said Jubilee was haunted with the ghost of Ella Shepard (the Jubilee Singer) and we used to hear stories of the underground tunnels and the chapel. But I never had any first hand experiences.

How many “firsts” did you have at college ? What were they? (e.g. first road trip, first job interview, first love, first “F or A”, etc.)

I think I had a whole LOT of firsts…. I was in college from 17-21. There’s not enough time to talk about all of the “firsts” I had a Fisk.

If you could speak to those family members that have risen but that live forever through you, what words would you speak?

I probably would listen.

If you could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after you what would you say?

If I could only speak two sentences to the youth coming after me I would say define yourself based on a grounded value system, and that life goes on. I feel like we get caught up on too much of the stimuli that we have access to that we forget what life is really about.

Also, we really take things hard and can be very critical but truthfully, life goes on. Focus on the positives instead of the shortcomings, things will be ok.

What situation in your life made you feel like you had arrived into womanhood?

Going back home to visit after I had been in school made me feel like I was arriving at womanhood, just because I could feel the difference in making my own decisions and my mom’s rules and guidelines and governing myself accordingly.

When and how did you discover your passion in life?

I think everyone inherently knows their passion. It’s in our spirit. As far as recognizing it, I think I’m still working on that one.

What sports and/or extra curricular activities did you do in High School? And why?

In high school, I danced, danced, danced. And YMCA minority achievers. I really tried to stay self contained. lol

What advice would you give high school students filling out college applications for the first time?

I would say look at the common apps! Saves you money and allows you to apply to a whole lot of schools, nothing wrong with options.

How do you deal with racism if you encounter it?

If, when I encounter prejudice of any kind. I continue to be who I am in hopes that the other parties may feel change based on our interactions. I don’t believe that prejudice is at any doing of the person on the receiving end but the deliverer. My goal is not to correct them in the literal since but show them understanding and familiarity where there is none could show the haste and ignorance in their judgement.

Whats your take on life (in the philosophical sense)?

I think that life is about balance. Everything is connected so if we apply the most fundamental understanding of how the world works, and we respect the natural order of the world and nature, things will be good.

Questions about completing a common app? Applying to Fisk University? Respectfully contact Ayo!

Email Address: Thomasa89@gmail.com

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