As a child growing up, college was never presented as an option for me, it was an absolute must. I knew that in 2004 when I graduated from high school that I would pack my suitcases in August and journey to whatever college destination I desired. The location I chose to continue my education was in New Orleans, Louisiana at a small private school named Dillard University. The recruiters of the university came to a college fair I attended and captured my attention immediately. Dillard University’s small size, community orientation, and religious affiliation intrigued me, making the school one of my first and strongest choices.
After coming to Dillard I never expected to meet people that would impact my life, experience the devastation of a hurricane, or even graduate one semester early. When I arrived at Dillard, I was not afraid to meet new people but rather anxious to make new friends. Though Dillard is a Historically Black University, the people I came in contact with are from diverse backgrounds and cultures. The friendships I’ve made over the last three years have impacted my life tremendously, not only on a personal level but academically as well. We’ve encouraged one another to join extra-curricular activities, apply for scholarships and graduate schools among other academic advancements, and gotten each other through the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
My Dillard family was separated during the hurricane and the months after but we still kept in touch. Many of us attended school else where, some worked and some simply counted the days when our campus would reopen. Though the hurricane was not by any means a positive or cheerful event it was one that strengthened my love for my school, family, and friends. After the hurricane Dillard regained a sense of community and family, and I realized how important it was to have a university that supported its students and made them feel like our school is a family. I was affected by the hurricane like many others, yet still I chose to return to New Orleans and continue my undergraduate education. Now over a year after the hurricane, I look at the city I fell in love with and hope that my support contributes to its progression and rebuilding.
Three years ago, four years of college seemed like quite a long time. Three years ago, college also seemed like a scary, far-away place that I was not ready for. Each and every day I learn new things about myself and others, and each day I’m forced to mature a little more. Hurricane Katrina is one of the factors of my maturity, it has shown me that I can overcome and adjust to almost any situation. One week I was buying books in the university book store, then the next I was choosing classes at an institution I’d never dreamed of attending, because I was not able to return to Dillard. The hurricane taught me that though I have a plan for my life, that plan can change at any moment and I must be ready to readjust. I also learned that you must embrace change; it can be a good thing, and one that happens at the most unexpected moments.
Dillard was not open from September to January, so we were given the opportunity to attend another university. During the 2005/2006 school year I completed three semesters instead of the normal two. Because I attended another institution, it pushed me a semester ahead. Now I will obtain my bachelors degree in Mass Communications in December 2007 instead of May 2008. I’m quite anxious to graduate early, but it seems like life is moving so fast and sometimes I just want to take a moment to breathe. It seems like it was just yesterday when I was choosing Dillard as my undergraduate institution, now I have to decide which city I want to move to, and which graduate school I will attend. Every day I live my life in the moment, I still plan for my future; however, I know that they are, like my professors say, “subject to change.” The thoughts of not knowing what the future holds may discomfort some, but because of Katrina I’ve learned that no matter how much planning you do for your life, any moment is unexpected. I learned you have to just live in the moment, and in those moments I remember what a good friend told me, “In life you must let go and let flow”.