TGR: The Importance of Attending and Finishing College
My Morehouse Experience
By Doni M. Glover, www.bmorenews.com
(BALTIMORE – July 6, 2012) – Like all editorials, this is just an opinion. Everybody has one, so if you don’t agree – don’t worry! You’re not alone. However, I’m going to make a bold declarative and say that the money I have put on education has clearly been the first best investment I have ever made.
It’s like when the old people told me and countless others growing up: “…And once you get it, nobody can ever take it away from you.” Those words just stick in your head. Or, how about my mom’s words: “Learn so you can earn!”
As a journalist, as an entrepreneur – college has been essential to ‘what’ I do and ‘how’ I do it. College has everything to do with ‘why’ I do it. College afforded me the chance to explore my options- to see what fit me best. And once I found it, I try and wear it like my Sunday best all the time!
My collegiate story began at the world-famous Morehouse College in 1983. Known as the greatest institution in the world by those who attended, it afforded me the opportunity to walk where giants walked. Why is this important? In retrospect, it is important that we learn how to visualize ourselves as giants. I think this helps counter the barrage of negative self-images of black people promulgated via the mainstream media.
This is why Dr. Leroy Davis, my history professor, was so necessary. He would tell us the storied past of the African American. Dr. Davis, a Viet Nam vet who used his benefits to go to college when he returned from war in the jungle, was from the streets of Washington, DC. As a young man from Baltimore, meeting a Dr. Davis brought my past and my future together – for he encouraged us to think outside the box – and more importantly, he taught us to always think critically for ourselves.
And there were other Morehouse, Spelman, and Clark professors who, too, would share their influence – all the while reminding students of African American icons like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and his mentor – Dr. Benjamin Elijah Mays, and Olympian Track and Field Legend Edwin Moses and the bodies of work they shared with us. It was about perfection. Creme de la crème. The golden ring was and is education. This is the dogma that attracted me.
I can’t speak for others. Some of my friends didn’t feel the same way I did about Morehouse. But for me, it was the greatest experience a kid out of Baltimore could experience. For one, it was a chance to see something other than Baltimore City 24/7. We all know the trouble that lurks. Also, just by traveling – one is getting an education. You get to see how other people do it. And you come to learn that the way your household worked as a kid – is not necessarily the same way other folks’ did it. So, you start to see and prayerfully respect the various differences in the world. So, you’re learning new things from new people – things you never even thought of. This is the beauty of the university setting.
I grew up Baptist and then was introduced to Islam. Not everyone had the same experience. Take for instance Steven Tolbert, Jr. – a young man I would later befriend. The first meeting, however, was hilariously funny. I thought he was off. He thought I was off. Go figure, right?
When I first saw him, it was 95 degrees. He was fully dressed with a vest. I believe he had some leopard shoes. Wing tips. I laughed when I saw him because there was no way he wasn’t feeling the heat. He then explained that the 95 degrees in Atlanta was no hotter than Liberia, his homeland. That lesson has never left me: Think before you speak. Also, nobody has a monopoly on knowledge. And lastly, listen: you might learn something.
Therefore, if in fact one’s life is truly to make a positive impact on this world – then one has to come to respect other cultures and traditions. One must understand etiquette. And one has to look beyond the surface and peep the values being instilled so as to search for the basic commonalities. For instance, I believe all cultures would agree that stealing and lying is wrong. Hence, you come to gain a better sense of what it and what isn’t.
By the way, another thing Tolbert taught me is that a black man has no reason whatsoever to fear voodoo. It only means black power. And if you understand the historical struggle out of which this custom was built, you would understand the efforts of a long list of black … freedom fighters who opposed slavery and oppression of blacks worldwide.
Yep! The best part of college, for me, was meeting people from all over the world. This only fed my love for media, journalism, entrepreneurship, and international travel.
Beyond that, the college experience afforded me an opportunity to work on my craft: writing and speaking. And the rest is pretty much history.
So, to those preparing to go to college for the first time, seize the opportunity with every ounce of determination in your body and soul. Treasure the opportunity to do what so many people around the world wish they could do: earn a degree. Remember our ancestors who had to learn to read by candlelight because they would get whipped if caught trying to educate themselves.
And as for black folks in America, the opportunity is more precious than ever before. Go, study, work hard, and enjoy every moment. You stand on the shoulders of many ancestors, and you do in fact have an innate responsibility to God and your race to do your absolute best and help make things better for your people.
College, of course, is only a staging area for life. Quite often, success in college leads to success in life – when the knowledge acquired is appropriately applied. Anybody can start something. The question becomes, “Can you finish?” And this is, in fact, what completing college demonstrates: that you can finish what you started.
By the way, I did not finish at Morehouse. I finished up at Coppin State. I also attended classes at Towson, Community College of Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University, Georgia State, and Morgan State during my illustrious 13-year 'scenic route' undergraduate tour. I finished Coppin with Honors as a Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Acheivement Program Scholar. I am a thesis shy of a Master's at present: Morgan State.
Time to take my own medicine. Be well! ... And study hard!
What do you think?
1 comment(s) on this page. Add your own comment below.
Thanks Doni, for writing about such an important message as the importance of college in such an inspiring way. I hope you are OK with us linking to it from our website. Thank you for taking such a personal approach and for sharing so much of your own experience - it is so easy for kids to relate to - I only wish all kids who are about to enter college could read it. Even more, I hope you'll think about a similar article targeted for middle/early high school kids about why it's so important to get themselves on a path to go to college and stay on track. As you well know, too many kids take themselves out of the running for college years before it would be time for them to go. Maybe a good time for that story would be back-to-school time as a way to start off on the right path - and be motivated to stay there. I hope all is well with you, Doni. Joan