May is an exciting month for me for many reasons. First off, it’s my birthday month, which is what makes it most special to me. Not to mention, Mother’s Day is great too. However, another reason I enjoy the month of May is because it’s the start of graduation season. Graduation time is so exciting. I love to see everyone dressed up in their caps and gowns, so proud to walk across that stage to pick up their diplomas. It’s something about seeing people accomplishing their goals and pursuing their passions that makes me want to work even harder to reach mine.
The importance of getting an education was instilled in me at an early age. My parents, who are college graduates, retired educators and business owners, were my first positive influences. They overcame many obstacles that many of us cannot even relate to. They both grew up on farms in eastern North Carolina, just 13 miles apart. Their parents were sharecroppers and they (along with their siblings) would have to pick cotton, prime tobacco, and feed the hogs amongst many other tasks, before and after school. This type of hard work motivated them to go to college to obtain Bachelor’s and graduate degrees. Indeed, my parents are my biggest role models. I’m so thankful they went on to get their education so that my sisters and I could have better lives. This past weekend was special to us because my parents celebrated their 45th class reunion from North Carolina A&T State University while I celebrated my 10th. Truly, they have been the ultimate influencers and for that I’m thankful!
Another positive influence related to education was the television show, “A Different World”. If you’re between the ages of 26-39 (plus or minus a few years) and grew up in an African American household (or even if you didn’t), you’re probably familiar with the show. “A Different World” chronicled the lives of college students Whitley Gilbert, Dwayne Wayne, Freddie Brooks, Ron Johnson, and Kimberly Reese, among many others. The students attended a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) called Hillman College. The show addressed many issues that are still prevalent today, including racism, HIV/AIDS, and abuse. Aside from those issues, “A Different World” showed little black kids that it’s possible to go to college and be a successful engineer, art buyer, medical doctor, or anything you want to be. Additionally, the show displayed how important HBCU’s are to the black community and why HBCU’s are needed still today, in a time when some state leaders are trying to close them. “A Different World” has positively impacted the lives of so many people in my generation and the younger generation as well. The cast was recently on the Steve Harvey Show discussing the shows impact and how it’s still relevant today. Furthermore, the cast members have toured a few college campuses sharing their stories and encouraging students to be successful in their academic pursuits.
Who has been a positive influence in your life? How have they motivated you to reach your goal of getting an education or pursuing a passion? Did “A Different World” influence you to go to college? Let me know in the comments below!
* Photos by EJR, II *