by Siera Toney
Because I went to high school in the historically Black Shaw/Howard University neighborhood in the District of Columbia, I was very used to seeing young Black people striving towards their academic goals. Although my school, Benjamin Banneker Academic High School was fairly diverse with a variety of races represented in the classroom, the student body was predominantly black young women; young Black women striving, excelling, and leading. Even the majority of the administrators and support staff were Black women. The issue was not in the quantity or quality of the examples that I had of Black women succeeding in life; it was with my ability to translate the characteristics of those examples into my own life.
All of the Black women I looked up to were organized, punctual, driven and passionate. Though I was very driven and passionate, I had some difficulty with these keys to success during my high school educational experience because I often found that I was not in control of my time. I am a young woman with a great deal of interests, both academic and co-curricular. My major challenge was dividing my time according to my interests. To prove to myself and others that I could, I took six AP classes in my high school career and each required hours of studying and homework time. I also exhibited a passion for the arts which I fulfilled by singing, dancing, and acting. I was so often tired and worn out from all of my activity that sometimes aspects of my life as a holistic student went lacking. On top of this, there is a strong pressure for young women to date in their teenage years, and I found myself spending a great deal of time on "relationships," as it were, as well. My time was often stretched too thin, as is true in the lives of many Black women. Sometimes my circle of support had to remind me that even though I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, I am not Superwoman. I knew that before going off to college I had to take hold of my time.
Now that I'm in college, I am transitioning daily into the higher level educational experience that this collegiate environment has to offer. Upon enrolling at Bennett College, I decided to become an Interdisciplinary Studies Major with concentrations in Vocal Performance, International Relations, Spanish, and English in order to fulfill my diverse interests. I still hunger for rigor in my academic life. I have completed 34 credit hours thus far with a 3.882 GPA and I am currently taking 19 credit hours. I have maintained my love of performance as a member of the Bennett College Choir, and I have undertaken leadership roles such as Chaplain of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honors Society. I am able to do all these things now because I have become the master of my time. I write things down, save dates, and work to maintain order and routine. These things have meant the difference in my academic life; I am glad that the women in my high school taught me by example.