As I reflect on my time here at Spelman, all I can do is smile. Every Spelmanite has a story to tell and here is mine. Until my junior year of high school, I had no aspirations to attend college. I did not know that I could. Even if I could go to college, I figured my chances of getting into a really good school were slim. My thought process was, ‘Why would schools waste time on me?’
I used to believe being a first-generation college student was a bad thing, but Spelman has taught me to understand it is not. I am a leader. I am charting my own path and crafting my own legacy.
I have learned so much about myself in my time here. I have matured into a confident young woman who has values and standards. I have no doubt in my mind about my future success. The Spelman experience is a truly unique phenomenon that can only take place once in a lifetime.
For starters, the idea of coming to Spelman was something I could only dream. During my junior year in high school, I visited the College at least three times. Since I was living in Lithonia, Ga., it was easy for me to get downtown to the College on a regular basis. Every time I came to campus, it felt magical. I knew I belonged here, but I still was not convinced that I should apply.
My hope came from a high school advanced economics teacher. She told me that I had angels watching out for me. She said I should pick one school that I felt I would never get into and apply. I took her advice, and here I am. She believed in me when I did not believe in myself.
My journey at Spelman has not been easy, but my mother reared me to be independent. She has always told me that my cerebral palsy does not define who I am. She says that it is the content of my character that makes me who I am.
When I first arrived on campus, I was a little overwhelmed because I realized I could not do things the same way I did at home. I started to take notice of the things that would help to provide a healthy experience for me and future generations of sisters to come.
I have been advocating for myself and others my entire time here. I now realize that this is what I feel as a Christian. God sent me here. As an inaugural member of the Social Justice Fellows program, I am leaving a legacy of change. I have been charged with the responsibility of engaging my community through social justice advocacy, and I do just that through Project I AM. This project is centered on differently abled awareness, inclusion and sensitivity. I am sure that this project will have an impact on Spelman for years to come.
Spelman has taught me to stand up for what I believe. I am helping to reactivate the Spelman arm of the National Council of Negro Women, and as an advocate for change I encourage everyone to come to our first event on Oct. 18, 2012. This is a chance to see Spelman at its best.
As a Spelman woman, I have studied in Europe and done service learning in South Africa. These are undeniably experiences that have changed my life and shaped who I am. Spelman gave me a chance, and now I am making the choice to be the change I want to see. Thank you, Spelman. – Shatika Duncan, C’2013, is a political science major.