Dear Kyra Ellese,
Your parents have finally left and you’re all alone in a new school and a new city. Howard University is unlike anything you have ever experienced. As you read this, you’re probably sitting in your dorm room, in the poorly lit Mary McLeod Bethune Annex, across from your roommate who has packed more things than the law should allow. Don’t worry she’ll eventually move out and you will have your fair share of ridiculous roommates. The next four years won’t be a walk in the park, it’ll be riddled with great peaks and great valleys. But you’re not alone.
The stereotypical goals you have for yourself (of finding a husband, being popular, etc.) put those aside, they will serve you no good. Develop goals of finding yourself, cultivating happiness and orchestrating peace, they will serve you well.
Over the next four years you will learn more about yourself than you ever thought was possible. You will find your voice, strengthen your faith and come into your own. Be bold and unwavering in all that you do. Stick to your ‘go big or go home,’ motto from high school. Reaching for the stars has never been a bad idea. Do not doubt yourself or your worth.
There will be days where you will question the decision to go to school so far away from home. There will be days where you question why you did venture out of your comfort zone and not follow your friends to LSU. There will be days when you question if Howard is even for you.
On those days, remember why you started. Remember your grandmother and parents. Remember all those who sacrificed for you to be here. Remember your village, who is rooting for you and willing to move mountains to see you succeed.
You will make friends in the most unexpected ways and grow apart from lifelong friends you never thought you would be without. But most importantly, you will learn to be a friend. Not just someone who people can joke with and go to the mall, but the person people call for reassurance in themselves when they are thinking about ending it all.
Your heart for service will grow. Throughout your time at Howard you will develop a ‘it’s bigger than you’ attitude that is rooted in service of others. Never loose that spirit. Surround yourself with people who fuel that spirit. Get involved with all the service opportunities on campus, that is where you develop as a servant leader.
You will find a home in the Media, Journalism & Film department, a place to nurture your inquisitive nature and to hone your love for writing. But it is also where you face some of your greatest challenges. It is in this department where you will be introduced to NABJ which will later open a wealth of doors for you. However, you will have to finally learn to accept criticism and release the spirit of procrastination. Journalism is not a field for the faint of heart, and you will be tried and tested, stick it out.
I promise you, you won’t be the same person who snuck food out of the café, so you could eat in your room because you were afraid to eat alone. You will actually learn to enjoy being alone and what solace comes from that.
All in all, the things you experience at Howard University will shape you into a person you will be proud to be. You will be forever indebted to Howard University for this experience.