My Little Spelman Sister,
If you’re anything like I was as an incoming freshman, you’ve got nothing but hopes for what the next four years of your life will be like within the pearly gates of Spelman, while also amidst the incomparable freeways of the city of Atlanta, as I did.
It is my hope however, that in sharing my experiences as a now rising senior, who has been through some things both regarding Spelman and Atlanta, that you may be that much further than your elder Spelman sister was then. This is from me to you!
My first semester at Spelman College, I ACTED THE FOOL. I literally went out almost every weeknight or at least every other day, thinking so long as I managed to get assignments and attend class that this would cut it, because after all, I’d made it this far to my dream school. I was wrong!!!!!!!
- DO NOT PARTY ON WEEK DAYS YOUR FIRST SEMESTER (MAYBE HOMECOMING IF YOU’RE BOUT THAT LIFE), BUT MIDTERM GRADES WILL HURT YOUR FEELINGS.
- DON’T WITHDRAW FROM A CLASS UNLESS YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY DO BETTER IN IT THE NEXT TIME YOU TAKE IT, OR DO JUST DROP BEFORE ADD/DROP IF YOU WON’T EVER NEED THE COURSE INSTEAD.
- TAKE ADW SERIOUSLY.
- HAVE A PLAN/VISION FOR THE LONG TERM GOALS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE THROUGHOUT YOUR MATRICULATION AT SPELMAN FROM THE START.
Though it may change, try to have an idea of what you want to major in, what will be required of you to fulfill that specific track, and keep organized with all the courses and credits that you are taking, so that there can never be discrepancies about your eligibility to graduate when that time comes. Time moves fast through college, and you don’t want to have sold your self short because of early decisions that came down to a lack of discipline!
Although I immediately joined the e-board of an organization, was on stroll and step teams my freshman year, because it was always my nature to be an actively well rounded student beyond the classroom, I can tell you now, that returning home after first semester, with a sucky GPA, and a threat from my dad to take me out of Spelman was no joke, nor was it worth it.
Besides, what if your tuition payers won’t just warn you! If you’re anything like me, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger yes, and you grow learning the hard way because it builds your character and keeps your perspective broad yes, HOWEVER, don’t be stubborn with trying to be grown your first semester, and being a rebel without a cause girl.
You should know now, Spelman leaves little to be desired without a minimum 3.0 gpa for many things, and believe it or not, depending on your major/minor, course load, extra curriculars, and just life that can and will happen, and can and will get in the way, it will be a challenge to boost it significantly the lower it begins. IT IS HARDER TO CLIMB UP THE GPA SCALE THAN TO MAINTAIN YOUR GPA ON THE SCALE. BE GREAT FROM THE START.
You will have a completely different college experience struggling to maintain a decent gpa, than struggling to gain an acceptable one. Ask about teachers, what their lecture styles are like, and what their grading is like, and ask this from several people about each teacher so that you have thorough input to consider before taking courses. This will make all the difference in being able to avoid those professors that you never had a chance with in the first place.
I cannot stress enough through it all though, how much to take your academics seriously from the beginning, and never forget the privilege that it is to be of the only 300 chosen for your class year out of the thousands annually. You are of the chosen ones, and it is a privilege to be able to study at the #1 HBCU in the nation, which also comes along with the responsibility to uphold the Spelman brand, which is to choose to change the world as the global woman of color that you are. You cannot do this until you change accordingly, and achieve a sense of discipline. I repeat, learn discipline!
For many of you, it will be the first time with limitless freedom from guardians and rules, financial freedom with credit and debit cards, relational freedom with friendships and romantic relationships, and primarily as a student with no one to tell you that you have to do basically anything when it comes to your work. You will never be made to do anything you don’t want to do, even if it is in your best interest at Spelman. Spelman fosters independence and maturity, and it will be a gradual process. Take it in stride always, even the little things like mandatory ADW, and FYE will benefit you in the long run I promise, and I will bring that full circle by the end of this!
Most importantly always understand that your life can change in the blink of an eye, and the lives of those around you surely will, but stay the course and be grateful everyday that you still have the opportunity to stay the course when you do. I remember the first week returning to school after winter break, and my roommate having to leave because she didn’t have the tuition. I know girls whose reputations and health more significantly that have forever been scarred by rumors or irreversible mistakes that they made trusting the wrong people, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I know people who lost scholarships because they didn’t take their work seriously and haven’t been able to get back into the swing of things, study full time, or study at all, unable to graduate on time, if at all. I myself even, was first set back with my GPA and rebounded, but it was hard. I myself experimented with different friend groups, only to find that I had met my one and only true best friend from the start.
But I’m here to say through the growing pains, through living together and taking all our classes together (which I wouldn’t recommend for friends either unless y’all the real deal), we’re tighter than ever, and that is also naturally to be expected as well ladies, please don’t be naive. We are all Spelman sisters yes but everyone is not your friend!
You will also go through periods of doubt, high comparison amongst yourself, your accomplishments, and what is seemingly far superior being done by those around you from yourself. You’ve got to learn in your own time that you are you and that is your power!!!!!! No matter the title, position, status, affiliation, whatever, of your Spelman sister she is not your motivation. You must be your own motivation! You are the captain of your fate, and you alone! But also, everyone is not your enemy- and a positive circle, positive networks, positive activities, positive connections, should all be gained at some point as well, most importantly. After all, the Spelman bond can be unlike any other amongst women, and we have a unique opportunity to better ourselves and each other not only through our undergraduate time but also for the rest of our lives, so keep that in mind with the same regard!
Now, Morehouse boys will always be there, and so will all the Clark folks, do not get preoccupied with the socialization of the AUC. While I’m still on that, also don’t give into the stereotypes of what each institutions’ student body must be like or the product that their institution must produce, even if they are true, like in the case of Spelmanites being the Oh So Fine Divas of the AUC, and that you should always be able to ask someone, Oh Don’t you wish you were a Spelmanite like me?!,
There are also exceptions to the rules of every institution, so get to know people for them! I know people who got into the wrong things, running in the wrong circles, messing more with locals outside the gates than their sisters within the gates, and that is not why you’re here. Remember that as long as you are at Spelman College, unless you are from the West End, that you are forever a visitor! Do not ever get too comfortable in the area. The same way you know when people are visiting when you see them in your hometown, is the same way, a great portion of the community not afforded the same access to resources and opportunities as yourself know the difference here, and it is human nature to be resentful of that. Be smart, and be careful! This is an actual part of growing up and learning to be an adult!
Somehow this makes me think of food (lmao). I love food. There will be a few fast food chains, and small mom and pop restaurants and dine ins in the local area, including grocery stores and markets, but again we are not in midtown, or downtown.
Though it may be less cost efficient, order for delivery rather than venturing to many of these places. Unfortunately the reality of living in an impoverished community is that even the fast food chains, stores, etc. are underserved and underrepresented anyway, so there will be less variety when you shop for whatever it is, be it food or apparel. You’re better off commuting to safer and more equipped spaces. Safety should always be the priority!
Unlike myself also, if you’re paying for the cafeteria try to take advantage of the options for a while including Subway, Starbucks, Morehouse’s Chick Fila, etc. instead of always ordering out, even if you’re over the cafeteria food quickly, which you will be. Absolutely, everything will get old eventually, but that is why you should not run everything out fast, but do remember that you also have the dining bucks to use so take advantage. Just span the dollars out across the semester, which I’ve struggled with in the past too. It sucks to have to pay out of pocket for these special amenities because you had no self-control for the first month when you had it fixed into your account already!
Ok- classes, social life, food, people in the AUC and in the West End, that leaves uh wait your personal/professional development once again, and this scopes beyond academics first mentioned, the ultimate topic of discussion for real! What I mean by this is, keep that vision I suggested you have from the start in mind always. Again like I said, I was always one personally, to be active beyond the classroom, but some of you may not be, but Spelman is like the real world in that networking and who you know is everything, and most times will outweigh what you know, because lets face it we’re all the best and the brightest at Spelman.
Also, the later you attempt to ingratiate into spaces, the less at an advantage you are in comparison to those who have been grinding since freshman year. Being involved in leadership roles of executive boards of organizations from the start as mentioned, always making sure that I was getting some sort of field experience whether in or outside of the AUC networks, developing a passion to serve beyond community service requirements- have all been things that have developed me as a person, global citizen, and as a more applicable candidate for now graduate school as I apply for the next chapter of my life!
Some of you will be like me, pursing higher education beyond Spelman, some of you will be pursuing corporate America like many of our sisters, or becoming the geniuses behind newly innovated excursions, businesses, and opportunities all across the world, but whatever it is, it will not be enough to have said that you had a Spelman degree in the end, despite what you may have heard. This is not because a Spelman degree is nothing, yes it is everything that much is true, but you are not the only one who will be graduating with a Spelman degree!
What makes you different?! What are you passionate about!? What do you want to do to impact change in the world?! What are you best at, and how can you use it to help others!? What are your best qualities, and what are those that aren’t so great and how do you get yourself prepared for a major comeback after a minor setback endlessly!? Do you know yourself against adversity?! Do you know yourself at your lowest point?! Do you know yourself when you have friends and are popular?! Do you know yourself in a space of solitude and in high competition amongst others?! What makes you special and why should anyone care on your best or worst day?!
These are just some of the countless questions that should and will surely cross your mind throughout your four years, and being fully engaged to heighten your experience and exposure in a professional and personal sense all the long, will be what makes you that much more marketable and exceptional as a human being, along with having that Spelman degree, and that’s what matters most!
That all in totality is the essence of the blessing of becoming a Spelman Woman. If you know this all, and look to provide the answers to these questions from the start or at various points throughout your journey for yourself, you would have ensured this special time of your life that you’re there for and deserve to have, and are encouraged to have, that will be a nurtured process within our environment unlike any other in the world.
Spelman is a treasure, and this is your time to know and to learn to love your gifts! This is the bonus that all Spelmanites get upon graduating from the number 1 HBCU in the nation, that no other young women of color get. I have enjoyed Spelman the most once I’ve been able to address these ideas regularly!
Lastly, I’d like to share my favorite part for a bang, because it is oh so especially relevant at this point in our culture, society, and world to address and to know as of the young, gifted, and black demographic.
As a rising senior at Spelman College, I am most proud to have become resilient, resistant, versatile, adaptable, and more than all a consciously well rounded leader, beyond ready to take on any and everything because I know all that I am and have to offer beyond the AUC- not just this year, but in the world for the rest of my life, and I am grateful to Spelman for affording me this newfound reality. WHITE PRIVLEDGE IS A REAL THING, AND A PREDOMINATELY WHITE INSTITUION CANNOT PREPARE BLACK PERSONS BETTER THAN A HISTORICALLY BLACK COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY CAN ABOUT ANYTHING AT ALL.
In addition to being taught by professors who all have their doctorates, being apart of the largest HBCU consortium in the nation, The Atlanta University, consistent of Morehouse and Clark Atlanta, both historically and still extremely significant, you are in the ONLY capable hands of developing your self as a citizen of the diaspora, and of the United States, personally, and professionally, as a scholar, as a leader, as a servant, and all else, as you will first grow to be, here at none other than our illustrious home HBCU institution, of Spelman College, the one and only since 1881.
The very people that will ask you about what its like to be at an HBCU versus a “real” school, are the very souls yearning for the BSU, diversity in faculty and courses, and additive attention and care from all at their PWI now. This is me bringing it all full circle as I promised I would… like I mentioned. Again, I came to Spelman with dreams, like you probably have.
But, what I plan on taking most pride in for now upon graduation in May is, being able to have left a legacy- a legacy that no one can ever deny or take from me, that through all I managed to create, along with a new sense of myself and the world, and myself in it. Trust that the grass is always greener on this other side, that is our oval, and take pride in that, love that, and value that, my Spelman sister while you can- and in the words of our beloved hymn and in the spirit of our founders, never forget above all, “to thine self be true!”
Love, Your Big Spelman Sister
PS- Never be afraid to ask a Spelman sister anything. Reach me directly if need be for more info at firstname.lastname@example.org! -:*