When I moved my young family out of the city many years ago, I was drawn by thoughts of increased safety and better schools. While we found these advantages, we paid a price when it came to my children's social engagement and sense of belonging. They did well, but I clearly saw them struggle with feelings of isolation and difference. College application time gave us a chance to evaluate and reassess. What would be best for my daughter's self-esteem as a young woman of color? What would give her the history that was often missing from her textbooks? Where would she create her own history, develop lifetime friendships through shared experience, and prepare for a satisfying and rewarding career?
While we live in a state that houses some of the nation's best schools, we intentionally chose a Historically Black College. Sending my daughter to Spelman was one of the most thoughtful investments of my life. For us, Spelman provided not only academic leadership, but also a unique environment for young women to experience self-actualization and sisterhood while demanding excellence. I am hugely impressed by Spelman alumnae who are now CEOs of leading companies, award-winning poets, authors, and activists. They found Spelman as a place to thrive, and to discover and refine their voices. My daughter now has a full spectrum of role models to consider as she defines her own career. In her own words, "My Spelman sisters motivated me to become a better version of myself. Ultimately, if it were not for institutions like Spelman, I would not have been exposed to environments in which women were urged and challenged to speak up. At Spelman, I learned that it doesn't matter how our hair is styled, where we are from, what faith we believe in, or what are political beliefs we hold. We are all very worthy and talented enough to achieve any form of success that we desire."
As we celebrate black history month, I celebrate our country's Historically Black Colleges and Universities for uplifting our children and giving them the platform to rise!