Move in day – An HBCU Experience!!!!

HBCU seal

Move in day – An HBCU  Experience!!!!

Journal  Entry
August 23, 2002
            Lines and lines of cars filled Georgia Ave. As I sit patiently in the back seat of our rental car, I notice a sign in the back window of the truck ahead of us.  It reads “College or Bust.” I’m smiling so hard that my cheeks begin to hurt. My heart is beating so fast it seems as though it’s going to jump right out of my chest. My hands are sweating, my mouth is cold, the music coming from my headphones seems muffled and I’m feeling a bit woozy. Are these signs of being nervous? Nope, they’re signs of excitement, pure excitement. It was Move In Day.
            As I finally make my way to the front of the line inside that tall brick building, the lady sitting in front of me, behind a big brown table hands me the keys to my brand new dwelling quarters.  I make my way to the elevator, staring at the shiny silver keys and the paper in my hand. It reads … Truth Hall…fourth floor. When I step off the elevator, everything begins to move in slow motion as I approach room 409. I pause, take a deep breath and step inside.
            As I looked around the empty room, I smile and begin to mentally put my room together. My roommate and I arranged our beds to make a little more space in our itty-bitty room, then we head back downstairs to meet our dads at the car. There were people everywhere, as far as I could see, that had come to help us move in, from the different campus organizations to the maintenance crew.  There were guys, beautiful guys EVERYWHERE, and they were there for one reason and one reason alone… to help us move in. What a wonderful welcoming party!
We finally got our things and made it upstairs to our room. My dad offered the three guys, who were helping us, a little partying gift.  They declined saying “that it was just apart of their job as a fraternity” and boy was I thankful… they were gorgeous. One of them told me I was really pretty and I got so nervous that I accidentally dropped a box on him and he rolled down the stairs. He thought it was funny, but I was mortified. He laughed it off and called me Ms. Klutz for the rest of the day.
We took pictures of everything, from leaving the hotel, to the beginning part of unpacking and setting up our rooms. Our RA came around and introduced herself and then reminded us that we were all to report to “the yard” in an hour for a ceremony. We were so tired from unpacking that we didn’t want to move, but my mom said “come on! Let’s see what else they are going to do!” I looked at her and wondered “how in the world does she still have energy?” I was exhausted, but my roommate and I followed her out of our room and on to the yard anyway. 
 When we got there, the HU( Howard University) Band was standing in the middle of the yard along with the flag girls and dancers. As we took our seats, the band began to play. The President introduced himself along with the rest of his staff. He welcomed us, the new freshman class, as we joined a legacy known as the Howard University Family. It was our Pinning Ceremony. 
We watched as one hundred upper classmen made their way through the crowd to welcome us. They gave us a hug and stuck a shiny round pin on our shirts that read “Howard University class of 2005.” Then we all stood up and sang the Alma modal and danced with the rest of the band. As the ceremony came to an end, I understood why my mom thought it was important for us to be there… It was a historical moment, one that I could only have once.  I am glad I went– glad I am at a historically black college and honored that I have been given the pleasure to attend such a wonderful University.
As the long but rewarding day came to an end, I sat at the dinner table with both my mom and dad, reflecting on how wonderful the day was and anxious to see what is in store for us tomorrow.
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Leaving Home




Of all the different things you’ll face when you go off to college, the hardest part is actually leaving home. Leaving home means leaving everything that is familiar to you in the past and moving on. It is an emotional and slightly frightening time for most. Since the age of six, I started spending my summers away from home for weeks and months at a time. So, I was used to being away from my mom. Therefore, when I left home, I thought it was going to be easy to leave her. I thought transitioning into college would be a breeze—that was so far from the truth. I hadn’t thought about the whole idea: getting acquainted with a totally different environment, in a totally different state, on a totally different side of the country!


At first, I almost panicked, but then I remembered, “Hey, this is a part of being on my own!” So, I decided to make the best of it and explore. I began by mingling with the girls on my floor; half the battle is finding a few people to explore with and, more importantly, establishing relationships that will help you through this first year. After that, we set out for all kinds of wacky adventures! My new friends and I found all the closest grocery stores, where we needed to go locally for certain things, and then we found out how to use the transportation system. Since I go to school in Washington, D.C., it was important that I knew how to use the Metro. It was really easy once I got used to it. At first I worried, “What will happen if I go the wrong way?” But then I reminded myself, that if I ended up far away from where I was supposed to be, I just needed to come back. It’s a learning experience and it’s all at the hand of exploration. After we figured that out, the sky was the limit. We found out where all the hot spots were, and then we went. I love to eat out and I love plays, so I made it a point of finding the cool restaurants and small, inexpensive theatres; then I tried all of them—or, at least I did until my funds were depleted. Hey, it happens!


The key to getting comfortable with your new environment is to get to know, or at least become aware of your surroundings. Howard University is located in what might be considered one of D.C.’s not-so-friendly environments, or the “hood.” Whatever it’s called, the bottom line is that to live here, you need to know what is going on in your area, when it’s safe to go out and, in turn, when it’s not. Once you become familiar with your surroundings, no matter where your college is, everything else is simple. Remember, there is nothing wrong with exploring. So feel free to venture out!




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Things To Remember…


Things To Remember

This is a little list to help you decide what to take and what to leave. There will be a lot of things that you will have to take care of when you get to school, so it will help you organize your list of things to do.

To-Do List

___ Get copies of high school transcripts in case the school does not have them.
___ Make sure the college has relevant copies of medical records.
___ Order telephones for the dorm or apartment, if needed.
___ Schedule an appointment with a college counselor two or three days prior to registration, to make sure all documents are in place       and discuss any questions or concerns.
___ Book flight or train arrangements, if necessary.
___ Book accommodations – Call the school to get a list of hotels in the area. You might plan to stay  3 to 7 days.
___ Call the college’s Resident Life Office to confirm your housing arrangements and check in dates.
___ Purchase trunks or other packing and shipping supplies.
___ Sit down with your parents and discuss what items you’d like to take to college as
       well as what colors you’d like for your college room.
___ Plan and throw a college shower; include a list of needed items on invitations.
___ Pack

The Check List…



Well Beautiful People,

July has ended which means blast off for college is just around the corner. So it’s time to ask ourselves yet again, are we prepared. Have you had your college shower yet?   What is a college shower you might ask? Well, a college shower is just like a baby or bridal shower just with the theme and gifts centered around you going off to college.

Make a list of all the things you already have for your room, but if you haven’t picked up everything yet…great, the college shower was invented just for that purpose! It will also allow your family and friends the opportunity to be a part of celebrating you going off to school. Make a new list, now of everything you still need and add it to the inside of your invitation so that friends and family know what kinds of gifts to bring you. The beauty of a college shower is that everyone wants to bring something that you will be able to use. So make sure your list has everything on it that you need. From the colors of your room to the kind of deodorant and soap you need in stock; Gift cards are always great as well. Below is a partial check off list to get you started. To get the list in its entirety you can purchase the book from my website at

These are also a few sites I like that offer great advice on what to take and how to organize:

The Check Off List

  • Land phone and answering machine: you’ll find most dorms still have a land line. A landline is good to have just in case you get bad service or reception in your room. Not to mention some schools still call your landline to let guest up to your room and it saves on using your cell phone minutes
  • Bedspread comforter or  a duvet cover
  • A cassette or digital voice recorder in case you choose to record lectures from your classes
  • Chair cushion for your desk chair
  • First aid kit travel size for your room
  • Organizers for your clothes, shoes and etc.
  • Sheets and pillow cases: 3 to 5 sets of sheets just in case you do not make it to the laundry room every week
  • Printer with a scanner
  • Laundry bag and supplies
  • A bathroom bucket or caddy
  • Slippers and waterproof shoes for the showers
  • Five sets of towels: because you won’t be able to wash every week but you should change your towel once a week
  • Blender: for healthy breakfasts smoothies (or smoothies anytime really)
  • Bug spray for those unwelcome guests
  • A clock and alarm clock with extra batteries
  • Dishcloths for washing your dishes
  • Microwave-safe dinnerware
  • Refrigerator with freezer and mini microwave: these two you should be able to order from the school
  • If you plan to bring a bike verify that there are bike racks or storage facilities near your housing and on campus
  • If you plan to bring a car be sure to have an automobile travel club membership just in case you encounter any problems with your vehicle
  • For every car there should be a toolkit which should include basic repair tools such as a socket set, wrenches, and somebody told me don’t tape fixes almost anything, so I guess duct tape to.



More Tips

  • In order to not have to ship all those items yourself, consider shopping online.
  • If you take your car remember to budget money for student parking.
  • As soon as your college schedule is known, checkup appointments should be made with hometown doctors and dentists for times when school is not in session.
  • Make sure that all your prescription medication are transferred to a pharmacy near your dorm.

I hope this atrial list was helpful. Be sure to check out the entire list on our website. Happy hunting!




“I PROMISE” A Parents Pledge


A Parents Pledge  “I PROMISE”
As a student I was blessed to have the kind of parents that were committed to my success inside and outside of the classroom. Now, as an adult,  a mother of two, and an educator, I see just how important their personal commitment and promises were to my development as a successful, functioning human being. I wasn’t perfect, I made mistakes just as your students will, but knowing that you are there, on their team to help maneuver them through the most vital years of their life, will ensure their success and yours. I have listed below 10 promises I have made to guarantee my students success  from elementary to high school to give them a solid foundation for college,  I believe this  is a pledge every parent should make.  Great parents rock! So thanks for being awesome parents!
1)      I promise to set and follow a schedule. I promise to have a specific bedtime schedule.
Its no secret that students do much better when they know what is going to happen on a daily basis. There is a comfort and assurance to a set schedule that just can’t be beat. In addition to that, it allows you to be able to keep task with what your brilliant student is or should be doing.
Ex: Mom calls home from work. Mom says “it’s 4:00, t.v. and snack time is up; Its homework time.  Have it done and on the table when I get home…” now after a week or so of this, the student becomes accustomed to following the daily routine. Structure is something we use everyday in life, giving them a schedule and routine lets them learn this lesson young. Having a schedule helps me get things done in a timely manner
2)      I promise to plan and prepare healthy meals.
They say we are what we eat. And super sweet snacks, soda, juice with high fructose corn syrup, chips, candy etc. lead to not just hyper active kids, but slow thinkers. We become lethargic. Foods that are high in good protein, fiber, and potassium are a great place to start. We should all be eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, find creative ways to make sure they meet their requirements.
 Ex: an apple with breakfast, a fruit cup and salad for lunch, trail mix with nuts, or tofu etc.
 Fact: complex carbohydrates like red potatoes are an excellent source of energy and because you burn them off slowly, your energy will last quite a while. An entire school day for sure.
3)      I promise to pay close attention to the completion of homework.
Double checking homework is always necessary. Many students lose points because they don’t complete or hand in their homework. Double checking at the end of the night ensures that they have finished it and it is put away for class the following day.
4)      I promise to set goals with my children.
Setting goals is a great way to one, stay on task and two, allow your student to feel a great sense of accomplishment when they reach their goals and if by chance they do not, it will help them get focused and determined to reach them. With your help and support they will exceed them.
5)       I promise to get to know their friends.
Your students’ biggest influence is the world around them right now because they spend so much time away from you. Getting to know their world and the friends in it allows you to stay connected to your student, to help them make good decisions and if necessary, help them deal with peer pressure.
6)      I promise to find out what my kids are watching on TV. And setting parameters for shows and length of daily TV. time:
Social media steers the trends of our society and more importantly that of your students. Make sure the things they are feeding their brain don’t go against the lessons taught and moral code of your home.  There should be more book or brain activity time than there is TV. time at home. Books, puzzles, word games etc. it gives them the opportunity to have fun and entertain themselves while also boosting their mental stamina, problem solving ability, vocabulary, and patience.
7)       I promise to teach them how to lay their clothes out and prepare lunch at night.
This teaches preparation and the importance of being on time which comes in handy years later for job interviews, meetings etc. it also teaches independence, the beginning of healthy meal planning, and it takes some pressure off of you.
8)       I promise to make myself available and approachable to my child, that we might build trust.  
Your student should have the utmost confidence that you, their guardian will listen to them when they have a problem, concern or just need to feel that they are important to you.
9)      I promise to encourage my children daily as a person, as a student, and most of all as my phenomenally brilliant child
If you do not encourage your student, who else will? If you don’t build up their confidence while you have the opportunity to do so, who else will? No one, that is our job as parents. The world can be a very cold place and so before your student finds themselves in it, make sure you’ve equipped them with the kind of self-confidence they need to not allow people in life to make them think less of themselves or  ever give up on their goals and dreams
10)   I promise to assure my child that I will listen to them in regards to their teachers
Nobody is perfect and teachers are not always right. Don’t always take their word for everything. Get involved in their classes. Ask your student about their teachers and what they think of them. Ask them about their classes. Doing this routine daily will give you insight into who the teachers are and if an issue should arise with one, you already have a good idea of how to go to bat for your child. Be your students’ advocate. If you don’t, no one else will either.
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How Prepared Are You? Life – Part II: College #2 Understanding your Financial aid package



Let’s talk about financial aid.



 Once you’ve chosen your college you will receive a financial aid award letter. In it will be a grant, usually two loans, either a subsidized and a parent plus, or a subsidized and an unsubsidized loan.  You would receive the unsubsidized loan if your parents applied for the parent plus and were turned down. For these, you will need to sign a promissory note.


 There may also be something called work study. Work study is a job that you have on campus that pays you directly. This is great because that extra pocket change can go a long way to stretching your budget and not putting too much extra pressure on your parental units, if they are the ones paying for college. If you receive your award letter and there is no work study on it, you can request it. You can also show up on campus with your resume and a cover letter and take it around to the different colleges or departments at your university and apply for an on campus job.



If you have the opportunity to work on campus you should. It can open up doors for you in other areas that you may not have known about. It is a great way to network and meet people in your field. It is also a great way to find out about jobs and internships domestic and abroad in your field. So do a little digging, and ask some questions about work study and on campus jobs.



Outside of on campus jobs, if you do not have to work your first year I would suggest not to, unless the hours are minimal and they work well around your class and study schedule. Having money can be important, but failing your classes because you were spread too thin between work and school will cause you problems that it will take years to repair.  So take your time, learn your rhythm for how you learn, study, understand, and retain information. Once you know how to work at your best, you can add a job to the equation without compromising your grades.



Lastly, when you get on campus, make one of your first stops at the financial aid office to meet your officer and let them see your face. Become a regular there. They receive scholarship information year round and many times they have no one to award them to because no one applied for the scholarships. Students had no idea they even existed. To avoid this happening to you, make sure your officer knows who you are so when scholarship opportunities come across their desk, you are the person they have in mind. You will have much to pay for in school and every little bit helps.


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How Prepared Are You? Life – Part II: College #1 What College Will you Attend?



 #1  What College Will you Attend

Have you made the decision? Do you know what college you will attend?


By now you should have an answer to this question, but if by chance you do not, because you are still collecting acceptance letters (congratulations) then let’s begin to narrow down our options, by starting a pros and cons list. Great reasons to select this school vs.  A few reasons why NOT to select this school.


For example:


 Pro: it’s close to home …………. Con: it’s close to home

 Pro: it is highly ranked in my desired area of expertise 

Con: It’s across the country, so I’ll only make it home for major holidays


Based on where your school is, ask yourself are you prepared for the climate change if there is one? I am from Los Angeles, California and I went all the way to the east coast for college in Washington D.C. which was a major climate change. Because I had been exposed to snow and cold weather, it was not a big deal. I just made sure I purchased the right kind of clothes for each season and when winter came around I already knew  how to layer my clothes from skiing most of my life; so I just applied the same layering concept while at school and whalah I was ready for anything.


What city and state is you school located? Will you need a new wardrobe to fit the climate change? (Have you added that into your budget?)


Will your school be located in the heart of the city? Or is it in a rural area? Will you need transportation? Or will you need to learn the public transit system? Each city is different. If you do your research before you get there it will be less for you to figure out once you get on campus. Trust me; you’ll have more than enough to think about.  Take your time and research the transit system. It’s not always recommended to have a car your first year. However if your school is located in a rural area you might consider having that discussion with your parents.

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