College is Not a Team Sport

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Me, graduating from my undergrad alma mater, University of Richmond

BY KIARA
When you’re in elementary school, you’re with the same people for every subject. You don’t even leave your classroom.
When you’re in middle school, you eventually befriend kids that look and feel just as awkward as you do. And in your shared awkwardness, you may ride the same bus, eat in the same lunch period or even study in the same classes.
When you’re in high school, you may find a clique with people who are starting to find themselves at the same pace that you are. You may go out together, dream about your futures and at last, walk across the stage together with diplomas in hand.
But after high school, school is no team sport.
In college, your friends may be with you at the party on Saturday, but they probably won’t be with you studying for your midterm on Sunday. Or at your job with you bright and early Monday morning.

 

Life can’t always be done in groups, so you have to get used to being with yourself.
Too many of us miss being with the group so much, we sacrifice ourselves. We let our grades slip to party with the team. We ignore our goals and dreams and take on what the team wants to do. Our lives and our souls get lost and confused in the team.
Don’t do it.
Don’t get me wrong — college, young adulthood and adulthood in general all have their times for the team…for the party. But it ain’t all the time.
If you play school as a team sport, the fouls will add up. In college, these fouls may be in the form of low grades, missed opportunities and even a missed degree.
Play smart. Most of the time, you got to be your own team. And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that.

meblacklipstick
KIARA LEE is the founder of #SCHOOLGIRLHUSTLE. She’s from Richmond, Virginia and she’s passionate about education and social justice. Two of her research interests are colorism and parental incarceration. In fact, she’s been featured on CNN’s Black in America for her work with children and colorism. She’s a writer before anything else, with a blog (theBlackertheBerry.org) and 2 children’s books surrounding social issues. She often says “education can be the best thing and the worst thing at the same time,” referring to the many layers of education that can make or break a student — particularly young girls. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia. She’s currently working on her PhD in education at Virginia Commonwealth University — she’s an aspiring college professor. In her free time, she likes to dabble in spoken word, write and vent about the wrongs of the world on her blog, theblackertheberry.org, shop in thrift stores, eat delicious foods, travel to new places and spend time with family and friends.

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Never Give Up

girl and butterfly EDIT

BY STEPHANIE

I was almost brought to tears when I heard a story about a young lady that I work with. She was deprived of an opportunity to continue her education after her freshman year of college. A man, who stalked and violated her physically, made her afraid to go back to school. The summer after her first year, she told her mother that she was too afraid to go back to campus. So, she decided to quit school, with the intention of going back. A few years later, because of the fear that he instilled in her, she has yet to go back to school. I could not believe it when she told this to me.

Putting myself in her position, I can’t help but think about how differently my life would have turned out if I had an experience like that. I never felt unsafe walking around campus during my undergraduate years at the University of Richmond. It was an incredible experience for me, and I don’t know what I would have done if I was in her shoes. It makes me so angry to know that there are people that will harm someone physically and emotionally, especially without any legitimate reason.

I have a younger sister who will be going to college next year, and it saddens me to feel a need to talk to her about how to prevent these circumstances. I understand the tears of excitement and anxiety that parents feel when they send their kids to college (especially their little girls who are becoming young women). When I think about all of the horrible things happening around the world, I cannot help but feel nervous at the thought of going back to school myself, but I will not let it stop me. I encourage any and everyone to not have their lives hindered and deprived out of fear. We must, unfortunately, take safety precautions as much as possible, but we must not let someone scare us into having our lives deprived of opportunities to live our lives to the fullest.

In the words of Whitney Houston, in her song, Never Give Up, “Hold your head to the sky, look them right in the eyes, Tell ’em you will never quit until the day you get it right….Even though some days you’ll have to cry, Shake it off and know that everything will be alright as long as you never ever give up.”


StephStephanie Granderson is a community advocate driven by her passion for education. Though she was raised in Richmond, Virginia, much of her cultural background comes from Trinidad and Tobago, where most of her family was born. As a first generation citizen and college graduate, she aspires to motivate her students to be successful just as others have done for her. While attending the University of Richmond, she was able to connect what she was learning in her classes about social inequalities with her experience volunteering in various schools and non-profits. Part of her experience was at Higher Achievement, where she had the opportunity to teach math and mentor students in under-resourced communities.  After graduation, she continued to serve Richmond through VCU’s AmeriCorps program where she tutored first and second graders to establish a stronger foundation in reading. She continues to tutor students in math, from kindergarten all the way up to calculus,
part-time after working at a middle school with students who have special needs in the City of Richmond. Stephanie loves to knit, dance, eat sushi, and practice speaking Spanish whenever she has the opportunity.

When the Hustle Gets Real

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BY KIARA

Its 2 Am and my mind is doing that thing again

And I wonder and I ponder and I like to pretend

And think about life without school and how easy it looks

The trips, the parties, the laid back lives and the housewives I see all over Facebook

The jobs I could have, the money I could make, the different things I could do, the different roads I could take

But the clock tells me I need to stop and keep it movin’ cuz this paper is due at 8

I’m twenty five – two plus five is 7

Now I’m delirious and thinkin’ “damn, it wasn’t this hard in undegrad back in 2011”

Eleven. 11 years ago, I wanted to be a doctor — medical

But now I’m up in this PhD program, it’s technical

When I was little, grandma used to always say books were my friends

And my friends will give me the ends I see on Facebook

and I won’t have to pretend…

(photo: Coyote Students News)

meblacklipstickKIARA LEE is the founder of #SCHOOLGIRLHUSTLE. She’s from Richmond, Virginia and she’s passionate about education and social justice. Two of her research interests are colorism and parental incarceration. In fact, she’s been featured on CNN’s Black in America for her work with children and colorism. She’s a writer before anything else, with a blog (theBlackertheBerry.org) and 2 children’s books surrounding social issues. She often says “education can be the best thing and the worst thing at the same time,” referring to the many layers of education that can make or break a student — particularly young girls. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia. She’s currently working on her PhD in education at Virginia Commonwealth University — she’s an aspiring college professor. In her free time, she likes to dabble in spoken word, write and vent about the wrongs of the world on her blog, theblackertheberry.org, shop in thrift stores, eat delicious foods, travel to new places and spend time with family and friends.


When the Boys don’t Like your Books

teen couple arguing

BY KIARA

“See, that’s your problem. You got your nose too far in them books.”

Two sentences I vowed to never forget.

I heard these words in the beginning of my freshman year of high school. Who said these words, you ask? This older boy, frustrated and angry because I didn’t want to talk to him.

I was working on a group project with a classmate over the phone. Next thing I knew, this guy from school was on the line with us. I really didn’t appreciate it because I was focused on getting our work done. Little did I know that this boy, who was good friends with my group project partner, was using our work time as an opportunity to try to spit some game at me.

“Where do you live?”

“What do you like to do for fun?”

“Are you a virgin?”

That was it.

Before he could ask any more questions, I went off. “Look, we have an assignment to get done. Maybe you need to hang up your phone and do something else because you’re really getting in the way right now,” I said.

And that’s when his anger set in and his true feelings about school and about me seeped out.

“Well you lame anyway. Always worried about school huh. Okay that’s why you don’t have no man,” he yelled.

My heart dropped. Not because I was offended, but because I saw the very type of guy my parents had always warned me about in living form.

“See, that’s your problem. You got your nose too far in them books.”

I always had been told that any boy that doesn’t respect your education, your goals and your dreams means you NO good. The knucklehead trying to interrupt my work would have rather me not finish my project and risk getting a bad grade — all because he wanted to get in my pants.

Ladies, your nose being in the books is NEVER a problem.  Be strong and firm in your beliefs for yourself and your future. If any boy or any man doesn’t value your wants and your desires, drop him as soon as you can.

When the boys don’t like your books, don’t like the boys.

(photo:rawstory.com)


meblacklipstickKIARA LEE is the founder of #SCHOOLGIRLHUSTLE. She’s from Richmond, Virginia and she’s passionate about education and social justice. Two of her research interests are colorism and parental incarceration. In fact, she’s been featured on CNN’s Black in America for her work with children and colorism. She’s a writer before anything else, with a blog (theBlackertheBerry.org) and 2 children’s books surrounding social issues. She often says “education can be the best thing and the worst thing at the same time,” referring to the many layers of education that can make or break a student — particularly young girls. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Richmond and a master’s degree in education from the University of Virginia. She’s currently working on her PhD in education at Virginia Commonwealth University — she’s an aspiring college professor. In her free time, she likes to dabble in spoken word, write and vent about the wrongs of the world on her blog, theblackertheberry.org, shop in thrift stores, eat delicious foods, travel to new places and spend time with family and friends.