Why would I be sad to graduate? I’m black at a PWI. Do the math.

I’m writing for one of the last times as a senior at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C. I’ve been here for four years and I’m very proud and excited to be graduating from a prestigious school that I really wanted to go to, that gave me not only incredible financial aid, but also the most amazing scholarship program in the world, GSP (http://gsp.georgetown.edu/) and my forever family, CMEA (http://http://cmea.georgetown.edu/). I’ve met some of the most important people in my life here and I have engaged academically in ways that will inform who I am forever but I still don’t understand for the life of me why anyone would expect I would be SAD to graduate.

SAD? Spare me. *hits Shmoney dance*

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Yes, my classes have been brutal. My GPA has the war stories to prove it and my transcript definitely has blemishes (read: WARTS) coming out of it in all directions but no, I’m not un-sad to graduate because of the academic load.

As a low-income, first-generation college student who also happens to be black and a black woman at that, my experience differs greatly from that of the “typical” Georgetown student, a Jack or Jane Hoya as we call them, if you will.

For Jacks and Janes Georgetown must be truly magical.

As far as I’m concerned I can definitely see and sense the magic, hell I can almost smell and taste the shit, but I am fully aware that the magic is not my own and constantly reminded of the ways in which it was deliberately not meant for me.

I love this place, but I don’t have the money to ENJOY it, the connections to EXPLOIT it, the family name to OWN it, the social disposition to DELIGHT in it and so on and so on and so forth. Being here requires a social cache that has never been afforded to me due to structural racism and deliberate systemic inequalities and as a result of that, I must struggle everyday to either attempt to assimilate, segregate myself into a community where I feel comfortable or try to thrust my self half-heartedly into both in a manner that 1. doesn’t bear much fruit and 2. would work to reinforce the tensions doing so was meant to originally alleviate.

This past year in particular has made being black at a PWI especially challenging. With the general disregard and pent-up institutional contempt for black bodies at an all time high for our generation, it is exhausting to know that you are in a place where the majority of the people around you are only vaguely aware, minimally interested and for the large part, wholly unaffected by the fact that your very LIFE, family, COMMUNITY and existence is constantly at risk and essentially spat upon day after day after day.

So yes, while it is a great honor to attend Georgetown University and I am forever grateful for the opportunity I have had here, the wonderfully supportive people I have come to know, and the distinguished privilege to be the first in my family to attend and graduate college right here on “the hilltop” and virtually debt-free, the reality is that no, I am not sad to graduate. I feel stifled and I am ready to break free.

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