H O W A R D   U N I V E R S I T Y

Faces & Voices 5
An Anthology
of Verse and Prose

the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

E. R. B

Faces & Voices 4


The Real HU
Terilyn Dumas Hometown: Macon, GA
Major: International Business
E-Mail: tdumas_hu@hotmail.com

        Ever since I was a little girl, I knew that I wanted to go to college. The most difficult issue over the years has been deciding where I would attend. The issue became more where my parents could afford to send me or from whom could I receive a scholarship, as I realized that finances, more than any other issue, was my biggest constraint. However, the idea of attending Howard University had always been at the forefront of my thoughts. It has always been my top choice since I knew that I wanted to be a student at one of the top historically black colleges and universities. My parents tried to convince me that financially this choice was not practical. They wanted me to go to a state school, where my education would be at no cost to them or myself. But, I promised my mother that whatever she could not fund towards my education, I would pay through loans or work-study programs if necessary. My only concern was going to a college where I would receive a solid education and be happy with my surroundings. Howard University was therefore the obvious choice at the time.
        Despite the ninety-dollar application fee, no fee waivers, and the thousands of high school seniors with whom I knew I would be competing against, I decided to apply to Howard University through the early decision process in hopes of receiving a scholarship. From review of the criteria, I knew that there was the possibility of at least receiving tuition. After receiving the seal of approval on my essay from my high school English teacher, I mailed my application on November 14, just in time to meet the November 15 postmark deadline.
        For almost six weeks, I waited in anticipation for an answer from Howard University. I knew that my grades, SAT scores, and extracurricular activities would exceed the requirements for admission into the university. Nevertheless, I needed a scholarship to guarantee my attendance. On December 27, my prayers were answered. As I opened the front door of my house to get the day's mail, I found a FedEx envelope addressed to me from Howard University. I immediately opened it and ran to tell my mother the good news. After the initial excitement wore off, I began to read additional information inside of the folder. My tuition was being covered by the Hilltop Scholarship, but I still needed to pay over 6,000 dollars in additional fees. I had promised that if I got my tuition supplied by the school, then loans and work-study would provide the remainder. However, in April I received an additional scholarship that supplemented the aid I was receiving from Howard, providing a full scholarship. My dream as a child had come true, and I had achieved it without putting my parents or myself into debt.
        On August 17, I said all of my good-byes to family and friends who wished me well as I departed for the most exciting adventure of my life, as I had been told. A full week of freshman orientation awaited so I didn't have time to get homesick. I became acquainted with the campus and met many new people from all over the world. It was also during these first few weeks of adjustment that I really became aware of the students and atmosphere of Howard University.
        For the past eight months I had been looking forward to leaving a high school where I was one of the few whose goals required attending college. I was finally going to a place where students went to class, studied, and took pride in their school, appearance, and the opportunity that receiving an education afforded them. I had such high expectations of Howard University and the people who attended the institution because of its prominent alumni and reputation as the number one historically black university. However, by October of my first semester, these expectations had been given a dose of reality.
        To my surprise, I found that most of the students I met were not the people whom I thought I would find. I saw people smoking marijuana out in the open on the yard where professors and administrative personnel passed. Young adults, who were supposed to be among the top students in the country, were caught having sex in public places. Those who did not fall into these categories had become victims of material wealth. More interested in Prada, Parasucco, Iceberg, and Sergio Valenti, females and males alike displayed more attention to their wardrobes than to the fact that a Republican president was about to be in office who did not have the interest of our community at heart. However, I was impressed with the faculty that I came into contact with. But, I wondered whether I couldn't have received professors just as good or better at another university. 
        This initial impression of Howard University left me feeling disappointed. I wondered had I made the right decision. I even planned to transfer to Spelman College, my second choice. True, I would have to come up with twenty-three thousand dollars, but it would be worth it to be somewhere I felt comfortable. My plan was to live with family in Atlanta, work, and apply for all the scholarships and financial aid that was available. When I began to discuss these feelings with some of my peers, I realized that I was not alone. They encouraged me to give Howard time; the second semester would be better.
        Over the Christmas holidays, I examined myself to see why I was feeling so disappointed and discouraged about school. I came to realize that it was not the school or the people that were playing the biggest role in these feelings, but me. A combination of missing home, having to make new friends, and adjusting to college life had become overwhelming. I discovered that I was using others as an excuse for my wanting to be home in Georgia. After coming to this realization, I vowed to have a more positive outlook on Howard University and its students in my second semester. Although, I continue to witness those who do not fulfill my expectations, they are not all I see. My eyes have been opened to the majority of Howard students who are diligent, hard workers who have goals in life and are doing what it takes to achieve them.
        The thought of transferring has not entered my mind since then. I had always been surrounded by people like me; I just had to be aware. Now, I continue to interact with these people in order to be constantly reminded that Howard is a small reflection of the world in which I live. There will always be people who don' t meet my expectations, just as there will be those who meet and exceed them. While some students are materialistic and smoke marijuana, there are others who are goal-oriented and take their education seriously. I am determined to make the most out of the education and opportunities that I receive at Howard University. I have realized that one can easily detect what diverges from the norm, but it takes close attention to notice the inconspicuous.

 2001 Terilyn Dumas

© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
HOWARD UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES, 500 Howard Place, NW, Washington, DC 20059.  Phone (202) 806-7234.