I’m in awe as I write this. I can’t believe the day of my graduation has finally arrived. This is the day that I’ve anticipated for years. Now, as I sit here and write this article, I’m 2 hours and 45 minutes away from graduating from Fort Valley State University with my Bachelors in Media Studies. I’m not gonna lie like emotions didn’t hit me, but I feel differently than that of other graduates on this weekend. Sure, the excitement is there but my emotions are mixed. As we go through this article, I’ll try to explain how I feel.
When I came into Fort Valley State University, I said I wanted to take over the yard. Being a known face on campus wasn’t a coincidence. It wasn’t for clout, it wasn’t for girls, it wasn’t to be Greek, it wasn’t to set myself up for a position. I just knew that college would be my time to shape the fabric of my life. I saw what Terrence J did at North Carolina A&T and how he worked his way up to be over the internship program at NASCAR right after he graduated. I studied how Tom Joyner went from Tuskegee to becoming the Fly Jock, changing the face of media forever. I saw Oprah attending Tennessee State, then becoming the billionaire media mogul we know today. I wanted to be just like them.
However, I felt as if I lost my way. Coming in as a freshman, I didn’t want to be your favorite student leader. I just wanted to be your favorite author. I wanted to sell you my books, change your life and then make millions of dollars. Through that hustle, I was able to start tutoring in writing and covering events on social media for the school. My life was more simple then. I was happier then. There was no high expectation that anyone set for me. I set that expectation for myself and worked within my interest. Freshman year wasn’t perfect but I allowed myself to operate in excellence and make things happen.
Getting involved in the student leadership fold was refreshing. It showed me a new side of the HBCU experience that anyone should see. I was able to travel, represent FVSU on a national scale, defend FVSU on a national scale and even get celebrities to show us love. However, I lost my way through this. Some often wonder how you can lose your way as you embark on positive change for your university and yourself. Pause though. Was I really enriching myself? If you went on my social media and saw everything about what was going on at FVSU but not any personal achievements in my life was I truly embarking on change in myself? Or, was I putting everyone else first before me?
I searched for validation in people. Mind you, validation that I already had from my family. I tried to stick to this conventional notion of what a black man is “supposed” to be. I put myself in weird situations and terrible friendships/relationships trying to live up to a player/socialite image that was never me and was never what I was. Even moreso, I started to lose track of the mission. Securing a degree was never the only goal. I wanted to be a millionaire before I graduated college. I was doing so much service to the school and my peers that I wasn’t providing that same energy for myself
January 8, 2018 is a point in my life that I will never forget. If anything, this is where my life shifted. I sat up in the den on WC5 (my dorm) and agonized over if I was walking the right path as we welcomed in the new year. People wanted me to run for Student Government Association President and I told myself that I agreed with them. However, my life wasn’t moving in that direction. I started to get disenchanted with SGA and its functions. It started to drain me. It wasn’t SGA’s fault though. I started covering football games for the Tom Joyner Foundation. I started covering basketball games with FVSU Athletics and eventually became the play-by-play and color commentator for the team. I got a new book idea that eventually turned into A Queen’s Pain. My life wasn’t saying be an SGA President. I felt as if I was being called to use my last few semesters of college to chase my dream of being in media.
So, I made a big decision. I decided that I would quit SGA and put all of my focus into HBCU Pulse. I was uncertain where it would lead but I felt something coming. I felt as if HBCU Pulse would be the big idea that propelled me to heights unimaginable. I had faith that HBCU Pulse would provide me the same joy and opportunity to connect with students from other institutions that the White House Initiative on HBCUs HBCU All-Star program did. I was nervous but I stepped out on faith and confidence. Now, I sit here today, hours away from walking across the stage.
Maybe that’s why I feel the way that I feel right now. That batch mixed emotions that I had on January 8, 2018 is the same way that I feel today. I made the choice to now take HBCU Pulse full time. I announced it to the world. I’m so anxious. I’m ready for this college journey to be over so I can get to this money and opportunity before the well runs dry. I’m excited because I’m at this point with the Pulse platform that I can assert that I’m doing it full time and people support me. But I’m also nervous. Incredibly nervous. I’m leaving the safety and security of a place that I’ve known for the past four years.
There’s no more going to the Student Center and talking to my friends for hours. There’s no sitting working in the library or the Student Center for hours with people coming up asking, “How long have you been here? It seems like you’ve been sitting there all day.” I was! There’s no more coming to pageants, probates and lectures an hour or two before it starts to make sure I get a good seat to film or do an Instagram Takeover. Life has begun.
But, rewind that. Maybe that is still there for me. HBCU Pulse will allow me to still do what fulfills me and makes me happy. I will be able to travel to other institutions and sit in their student centers and libraries, building with their student leaders and cultivating friendships and connections. Maybe now they’ll ask, “Hey, aren’t you Randall from HBCU Pulse?” I now can inspire college students that aren’t like me to embrace unconventional lanes to success just like Tom Joyner, Terrence J, Oprah and a myriad of others did for me.
I’m not trying to teach anyone a lesson right now. I’m just expressing the mixture of emotions that I’m feeling right now. I feel better though, as I wrap up this article and thirty minutes remain until I have to report to graduation. Writing this made me feel more secure about this journey I’m about to embark on. Now, the celebration can begin!