During a recent trip to New York City to attend the 2018 University Commencement ceremony for The New School, I was met with a very profound and enlightening revelation. As a young girl and even as a young child in general, I would encounter teachers, family members, and strangers on occasion who would remind me that I could do and be anything in this world I wanted to. Although I did believe that to be true, as I got older I also realized that as a young black woman, that would require me to work twice as hard to be considered just as good and it wouldn’t be easy.
I found it difficult to fight back the tears as my younger sister was called on stage to accept the David S. Woods award for humanitarianism at Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts’ recognition ceremony just a day earlier. After spending her freshman year in Ecuador as part of the non-profit organization, Global Citizen Year, having to complete a senior thesis that took 9 months of research, and everything that she’s accomplished in between, I felt like I was finally watching the stars align for her during these graduation ceremonies. And with every young black woman that accepted her college degree that day, I felt as though I was watching the stars align for them as well.
As a way to say congratulations, I wanted to shine a light on a few recent college graduates and remind the younger generations of women to come that you absolutely can do and be anything in this world that you want to. Yes, it will be difficult — no, the road won’t be easy, but I promise it is not impossible.
Congratulations to the entire class of 2018!
Graduating from Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts with a major in Global Studies, Cierra Bland was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia and spent her first year of college in Ecuador working on an organic farm and a shelter for victims of domestic violence. She has worked at the Schomburg Center For Research In Black Culture, volunteered as an ESL teacher, and interned at HarperCollins Publishers. As a member of the New School community, Cierra was a TA for Scene Study: Prison Plays, met with activists in Colombia as a Gural Scholar, organized a KnowYourRights campaign, and helped found the Black Student Union. Cierra Bland is a womanist who believes in storytelling as restorative justice.
Elesha Cole was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and is a recent graduate of Valdosta State University, with a major in Chemistry and a minor in African American Studies. Throughout her college career, Elesha joined many great organizations such as NAACP, MAG: Media Art Geniuses, The Beauty Movement, and the Pre-Pharmacy Club. Not only was she able to uphold jobs in the retail and customer care industries while attending college, but Cole also managed to get her Pharmacy Technician license on top of creating, building, and growing her businesses, Ace of Gold Shoetique LLC and Gold Links Collection!
Tamia Mallory was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia and is a recent graduate of George Mason University with a B.A. in Communication, a minor in Journalism, with a concentration in Media Production and Criticism. She has co-hosted The Spill, a talk show about campus life at GMU, and became Editor-In-Chief of Prime + Set. However, it doesn’t stop there for Tamia as she has a recently published article on Refinery29.com on being an aspiring black woman in media!