__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

THE BLUEPRINT:

A S P E L M A N S P O T L I G H T P U B L I C AT I O N

A Look at What’s Inside: Divided Congress: GOP Health Care Bill p.2 Spreading Black Girl Magic to Wikipedia p.2 Celebrating Women’s History Month and Black Women’s History Week p.3 2017 Founders Day Celebrations

Intellectual Framework for the Freethinker

May 2017

Getting to Know the Co-Valedictorian: Muhire Honorine Kwizera By: Zoë Holloway

Muhire Honorine Kwizera, a native of Kigali, Rwanda, is a graduating senior at Spelman College and the covaledictorian for the class of 2017. On May 23, she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and attend Columbia University in the fall to pursue a Ph.D., in biostatistics. Kwizera plans to use her degree to study health disparities and sustainable healthcare. Growing up in Rwanda, a country with a history of genocide and onethird of the population suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), inspired Kwizera to further her interest in mental health. Kwizera’s love for math stems from her parents. “My mom is an accountant, but she has a deep love for

Pictured: Co-valedictorian for C’O 2017, Muhire Honorine Kwizera Photo courtesy: Muhire Honorine Kwizera

Vol. 4, No. 5

mathematics and statistics. So, I wanted to merge my interests in mathematics and my interest in helping people with

mental illness, and that’s how I got into biostatistics,” she said. As an international student, Kwizera received a scholarship from Rwanda to attend one of seventeen universities and colleges in the southern region of United States. Luckily, Spelman College was one of those schools. Kwizera admits that she, “didn’t know much about Spelman,” but after looking at the college’s website, she thought “[Spelman] looks like an empowering place, a really good place for young women who wanted to be leaders in their field.”   Kwizera’s journey at Spelman has been transformative, largely due to the

continued on page 8...

p.4-5

p.6

By: Tyler Stephens

p.6

The Sexiest Show in the AUC: Art After Dark p.7 5 Black Owned Restaurants in Atlanta to Support p.7 Why I Chose a Historically Black College p.8

Follow us on Twitter @TheSpelmanBP

“If you are doing something that affirms the status quo, it’s easy. If you’re doing something against the status quo, it’s war,” said George Wolfe – writer, director and Tony winner – to a crowded Spelman College auditorium on April 7, 2017. Wolfe has been at war with identity and inclusivity most of his life. In a conversation with President Mary Schmidt Campbell, with an introduction by National Phi Beta Kappa Society president Fred Lawrence, Wolfe recounts his life in theatre and upcoming film “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” starring Oprah Winfrey. From humble beginnings in the rural south after the end of Jim Crow, to being one of the few black men in predominately white theatre spaces, Wolfe has made it his mission to expand and open opportunities for others. However, Wolfe was not always so sure of his calling. While in college, he experimented with different areas of study and activities in hope of finding himself. He relayed that while he “always wanted to be a writer, [he] didn’t have the courage to do so.” His individuality and skills as a

Pictured: Tony director George Wolfe in conversation with President Mary Schmidt Campbell on April 7, 2017. Photo courtesy: Spelman College

Fashion and Sisterhood

Fighting the Tide – Tony Winner George Wolfe Reflects on his Career

Interning 101

writer were further questioned in an elite theatre program in New York, where a racist professor challenged him each step of the way. “It was a really fascinating thing because it enraged me. [But I learned] I was not put on this planet to attack [the professor] or educate her. I was out here to steal her connections and information to make her obsolete.” As artistic director of the Public Theatre in New York City for 11 years,

Wolfe worked to incorporate more people of color into high positions of the theatre. “You will get in the room so you can open the doors and windows for everyone else ... I wanted to make structures so other people could make work, so that they didn’t have to fight. I’ll fight so they can do the work … there was a lot of blood on the floor [to change the Public Theatre], some of it was mine.”

continued on page 6...


2 May 2017 www.spelmanblueprint.com

The BluePrint

CURRENT EVENTS Divided Congress: GOP Health Care Bill

On Friday, March 21, Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump withdrew the GOP health care bill due to a lack of congressional votes to repeal and replace The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). This came as a surprise, since Republicans hold majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate. Under the proposed GOP health care bill, American Health Care Act (Trumpcare), 20 million people would lose their healthcare coverage and a projected 24 million people would be uncovered by the year 2024. The bill would also revoke tax penalties for people without health insurance and allow citizens to chose if they want health insurance, ultimately leading to a drastic increase in

the federal deficit. Under the GOP bill, the cost of insurance would rise for elderly people nearing retirement due to the amount of people who would not have had insurance. Additionally, the bill would decrease funding for Medicaid, a health insurance program that covers over 50 million low income and disabled people who cannot afford health insurance. For seven years Republicans have stated they would repeal and replace Obamacare, yet they could not come to an agreement on the bill. One of the primary reasons Republicans did not succeed was due to the infighting between the Republican members of congress. Conservatives - mainly the

Pictured: Paul Ryan presenting GOP Healthcare replacement bill Photo courtesy: NBC News

By: Kristin Burns

House Freedom Caucus - believed the bill was too similar to the Affordable Care Act. Some moderates believed they would risk their reelection by voting for a bill that

would cause many of their constituents to lose health care.

can undermine her accomplishments or focus more on her relationships to others than her actual career. Not only is there a lack of articles centered on black women, but pages about women are being

rapidly deleted due to a lack of content. It is important that women of color have representation on the world’s largest knowledge base, so the hidden stories of women are celebrated. Aware of this growing problem, Wikipedia and organizations like Art+Feminism are looking to expand editors through edit-a-thons, where groups of people edit Wikipedia articles centered on women and people of color. On March 5, 2017, Spelman hosted the Black Women’s Herstory Edit-a-thon, where students and faculty gathered to edit Wikipedia. Organized by Dr. Alexandria Lockett, the event featured training on how to use Wikipedia, support from librarians for research and help from a Wikimedian who has contributed thousands of edits. By the end of the event, over 50 black women were registered to Wikipedia. Through Wikipedia, black women can begin fighting for representation on a global scale by crediting accomplishments and constructing a new narrative on black womanhood.

Pictured: Wikimedian assisting a student with research. Photo courtesy: Lewis Miles

Spreading Black Girl Magic to Wikipedia cases can be explored. However, 90 percent of the content on Wikipedia is created by white men. The most popular topics for white men to edit are video games, music and war heroes, leaving few articles on the accomplishments of women of color and the arts. While Mara Brock Akil – creator of “Being Mary Jane” and “Girlfriends” – barely has a paragraph on her page, the fictional character Pikachu from the Pokémon series has a welldeveloped page. If a woman has a page, the article

Pictured: Students editing Wikipedia at the Black Women’s Herstory Edit-a-thon on March 5, 2017. Photo courtesy: Serena Hughley

By: Tyler Stephens

If you need to look up information on a topic, chances are you go to Wikipedia. With over eight billion page views in a single month, the site has become one of the most influential information sources of our time. While print encyclopedias placed control of knowledge production with elites in a specific field, Wikipedia is an open knowledge source that allows anyone to edit and create articles. This has expanded the stories and information shared – with over five million articles, everything from music to popular court

continued on page 3...


The BluePrint

www.spelmanblueprint.com May 2017

3

CURRENT EVENTS Celebrating Women’s History Month and Black Women’s History Week

Pictured: Throughout March, Women’s History Month and Black Women’s History Week celebrate the accomplishments of women. Photo courtesy: Ladies Live and Learn

By: Danyelle R. Carter

In 1978, the Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Statues of Women of California initiated a “Women’s History Week” after a public outcry on the lack of women’s history in K-12 curriculum. During the first local Women’s History Week celebration, dozens of schools honored women through special programs. More than 100 women across the country gave significant presentations, wrote “Real Woman” Essay entries and attended a parade and program held in

downtown Santa Rosa, California. By 1986, 14 states declared March as Women’s History Month. In 1987, this momentum and state-by-state action empowered Congress to declare March as National Women’s History Month. Since 1995, a special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year, which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women. Women’s History Month allows the country to reflect on our history, however, many Black women are erased

ABOUT THE BLUEPRINT: Chief Editors Tyler Stephens, Editor-In-Chief Bria Paige, Managing Editor Ashlea Brown, Copy Editor

Business Team Maya Mitchell, Marketing, and Communications Manager

Advisors Keena M. McClendon Sylvia Maddox

Advertisement with BluePrint Contact Maya Mitchell at bpmarcomm@gmail.com

Thanks to all of our contributing staff and featured writers.

Mission Statement It is the mission of The BluePrint to serve as a profound forum that fortifies understanding, unity and advocacy throughout the Spelman and greater AUC community. The BluePrint strives to produce innovative, fair and creative journalism that helps its readers understand the nation and world through the lens of African-American and Black women.

from history. Since March 2015, the African American Policy Forum and several of their partners have celebrated the last week in March as Black Women’s History Week. Organizations gave insight on intersectional challenges black women face in the U.S. and shared the stories

of black women who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their contributions to American society. Sen. Kirstin Gillibrand of New York has filed two congressional declarations for the U.S. government to officially recognize the last week in March as Black Women’s History Week. In Gillibrand’s letter to President Barack Obama, she stated “Black women have been inspirational symbols of strength and perseverance through their high voter turnout and historic leadership of racial justice movements. …Yet at the same time, Black women continue to face undue burdens and obstacles to their own well-being.” Although Sen. Gillibrand failed to get the order passed, it garnered much needed attention to empower others to include Black women in history. Women’s History Month and Black Women’s History Week allows us to champion the accomplishments and lead conversations to write Black women back into history. When we recognize the achievements of women and girls in all facets of life – science, community, government, literature, art, sports, medicine – it has an impact on the development of self-affirmation and new opportunities for us all.

Divided Congress: GOP Health Care Bill

(continued)

...continued from page 2 However, on Thursday May 5, 2017 in a narrow 217-213 vote, the House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act. Now, the bill must pass the Senate to be approved by the president. Civil Rights icon and Atlanta

congressman John Lewis stated on Twitter, that the bill “does not rescue health care” and that he has never “seen legislative action that reveals such clear disdain for the human dignity of the most vulnerable among us.” Though the bill passed the House, there is still work to be done. As Trump is coming to realize, “healthcare [can] be so complicated.”

Contact Us Email: bpexecutiveeditors@gmail.com Website: www.spelmanblueprint.com Instagram: TheSpelmanBP Twitter: @TheSpelmanBP

THE BLUEPRINT: A SPELMAN SPOTLIGHT P U B L I C AT I O N

Want to Advertise in The BluePrint? Graphic Design provided by Ashley Eberhardt & Printing provided by Greater Georgia Printers Rely on us for ALL YOUR printing needs!

www.GeorgiaPrinters.com

If you are interested in advertising, please contact Maya Mitchell at bpmarcomm@gmail.com or the Office of Student Life and Engagement (404) 270-5139.


4 May 2017 www.spelmanblueprint.com

The BluePrint

FOUNDERS DAY CELEBRATIONS 2017 2017 Founders Day Celebrations By: Tyler Stephens Photos: Spelman College

On Tuesday, April 11, 2017 students celebrated the 136th anniversary of Spelman College. Founders Day is a time of reflection for the past achievements of alumnae, and a celebration of the graduating seniors. Founders Day typically begins with a senior class breakfast and robing ceremony, followed by a school wide processional to Sister’s Chapel. Students, donned in white attire, attend convocation where seniors and the history of Spelman College are honored. This year alumna Stacey Abrams - who was the first black person to lead the Georgia General Assembly and House of Representatives - received an honorary degree. Alumna Ernestine Mann - who is a retired educator and past National Alumnae Association Spelman College Atlanta chapter president - earned the Founders Spirit Award. The day concluded with a celebration on the Oval, complete with games, music and activities for all students.


The BluePrint

www.spelmanblueprint.com May 2017

FOUNDERS DAY CELEBRATIONS 2017

5


6 May 2017 www.spelmanblueprint.com

The BluePrint

CAMPUS LIFE Interning 101 By: Anu Adebowale

Photo courtesy: UCP Seguin

With summer approaching, internship season is in full motion. The search for a suitable internship in your desired field, despite what you think, does not have to be difficult! According to Harold Bell, director of Career Services at Spelman College, the importance of getting an internship is to enter an organization and learn how that specific organization functions through hands-on experience. An internship gives companies a

chance to observe your performance and assess your potential for employment at their company, while also building your resume and providing experience in your preferred field. Spelman College’s job database, Handshake, is a great way to locate internships tailored to your needs. The site features employers specifically looking for Spelman students - often offering Spelman students exclusive internship opportunities, special applications and a smaller pool of applicants to better your chance of gaining an internship. This is opposed to larger sites like Indeed and LinkedIn, which are geared towards the

general public. Vocate is another career platform that works to pair students with more than a 1,000 employers looking to hire interns and entry-level employees. “Vocate helps you understand your career interests, and make meaningful connections to employers. For no additional cost, Vocate also coaches you as you progress through the process of finding internships and entry-level job positions,” said junior Jillian Woodard, who is an ambassador for the company. Visit vocate.me to learn more information. Below, Bell told the BluePrint the best ways to get an internship for the summer. • It is crucial to be time conscious. Many organizations begin recruiting for prospective candidates as early as September. “These opportunities don’t necessary leave the table, but earlier is always better.” Though Internships sometimes have multiple deadlines, focusing on the first deadline yields a better chance of

obtaining the internship. • Remember to utilize the Career Center! The center offers help with creating a resume, career assessment and mock interviews to prepare you for the workforce. • Focus on internships that are geared towards your future career. Having a job at a summer camp is great if you may want to be a teacher, but may not be feasible if you intend on becoming a consultant. • Speak to recruiters directly because “technology is wonderful, but technology is a tool and should not be your primary point of engagement for a job.” Speaking in person allows recruiters to see your personality and work ethic outside an electronic resume. The Career Center is located in Milligan Building, suite 2304. If you have further questions, come to the Career Center to speak directly with experts on how to shape your future.

ARTS & Entertainment

Fashion and Sisterhood On April 25, 2017 the “Sweet” Mu Pi chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. hosted it’s annual Limelight fashion show in Upper Manley. This year’s theme, Spectrum, showcased fashions from the 1920s to 2017. From styles inspired by Angela Davis to Whitney Houston, the fashions explored black girl magic throughout the ages and transported the audience to another era. The fashion show raised over $1,000 and proceeds went to the Georgia Conservatory in honor of Earth Day. Guests were also asked to bring a recyclable item in honor of the day. Seniors Taylor Brightman and Brianna Gaulding were co-chairs of the

event, and were in charge of coordinating a production crew, models and stylists. “[We] are serious about highlighting and honoring black women so we figured this event would be a perfect opportunity,” said Gaulding. Brightman echoed the sentiments, saying “It was a privilege to mix our passion for fashion and black womanhood to produce such an enticing show.” It was fitting for the sorority to host the fashion show, as they were featured in Vogue for the magazine’s 125th anniversary on March 8, 2017. The Mu Pi chapter was chosen to celebrate black women leaders and give a glimpse into black sorority life. Members of the

Pictured: An audience gathered in Upper Manley for Spectrum: Limelight Fashion Show. Photo courtesy: @19sweetmupi79

By: Tyler Stephens

chapter discussed their dedication to the sorority, the meaning of sisterhood and participated in a photo shoot. To learn more information on the

chapter, follow @19sweetmupi79 on Instagram and visit 19sweetmupi79.com.

Fighting the Tide – Tony Winner George Wolfe Reflects on his Career (continued)

the death of Henrietta and how she was given no recognition for her contribution to science. The movie premiered April 22 on HBO, but Spelman got a special screening of the film on April 12. At the end of the conversation, Wolfe left a final piece of advice to students: “When you’re in college overwhelm yourself with as much information as you can ... you can play and you can fail.”

...continued from page 1 When directing, Wolfe always wants to “tell stories because they are important

and value people. In “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” Wolfe tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, the woman whose immortalized cell line, HeLa, became

one of the most influential medical contributions. Through the eyes of her daughter, Deborah Lacks (Oprah Winfrey), the audience discovers what caused


The BluePrint

www.spelmanblueprint.com May 2017

7

ARTS & Entertainment The Sexiest Show in the AUC: Art After Dark

Pictured: “Art After Dark” promotional poster Photo courtesy: Spriggs-Boroughs Drama Department

By: Kristin Burns

The Spriggs-Boroughs Drama Department at Spelman College recently held their annual student run show

“Art After Dark.” The show includes a variety of performances that explore black love and sexuality. With fantasy vs. reality

5 Black Owned Restaurants in Atlanta to Support By: Melody Greene

Atlanta is a bustling city – yet with so much to do and see, it can seem overwhelming. The BluePrint searched and found five affordable restaurants to visit during the school year in Atlanta.

being the theme of this year’s show, each performance displayed a range of sexual experiences and desires of the young (and the old). Additionally, the show delved into the assortment of emotions encountered during relationships and the emotional toll of the betrayal and loss of a significant other. Brandon Burditt, a junior at Morehouse College and the director of “Art After Dark,” stated that the show “belongs to those who love black life with an untamed passion. I hope the people enjoyed watching it as much as we did making it.” The hard work of the students was shown throughout the production, from the crafty dialogue and artful choreography, to the imposing lighting and music from the beginning to the end of the show. Even before it began, the mood for the show was set through the carnal melodies and shirtless ushers, filling the atmosphere with sexual vibrancy and animation. Alexis Woodard, a freshman at Spelman and first-time participant in “Art After Dark,” described the show as “a collaborative work of different types of art forms [that] represent black love -- the good and the bad.” She recounted the experience as being “able to grow closer to the artistic community in the

Atlanta University Center (AUC) , as well as watching the behind-the-scenes of some incredible pieces.” The show executed an array of affairs through the art forms of dance, spoken word, comedic sketches, monologues and singing. One of the most memorable pieces involved seven elderly women recounting their past sexual experiences to the tune of “Cell Block Tango” from the Broadway show “Chicago.” “I loved Art After Dark,” said first year Jacqueline Brown-Gaines. “It showcased black people’s sexuality explicitly and unapologetically ... just black men and women being human. My favorite pieces were the old women singing and the rap battle between the exes because they spoke directly to me.” “The process of putting together the show is both strenuous and rewarding. We have a legacy to uphold but we also have a vision of our own, so it’s all about compromising to create,” says Rajane Brown, a senior and participant in “Art After Dark.” “Art After Dark” ran from Mar. 2325 in the Fine Arts building, with each night selling out.

Do Restaurant A stylish pizza restaurant in Midtown with an eclectic music selection. Location: 955 W. Marietta St. Atlanta, GA 30318 Price Range: $6.95-$12.50 for a personal pizza Recommendation: Garlic Cheese Bites ($6.50 for 6 bites & marinara, ranch, or alfredo dipping sauce)

The Brunch Cabana A quaint restaurant with great food and an even greater price. Location: 249 Peters St. SW, Atlanta GA 30313 Price Range: $5.95-$9.95 for a meal Recommendation: Cinnamon Pancakes ($3.50 for 2 pancakes)

Mangos Caribbean Restaurant The perfect place to get flavorful Caribbean food at a reasonable price. Location: 180 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303 Price Range: $8-$16 for a meal Recommendation: Curry Chicken ($14 for a meal that includes rice, cabbage, & plantains)

The Busy Bee Café Established in 1947, Busy Bee is the epitome of amazing soul food. Location: 810 Martin Luther King Jr Dr. SW, Atlanta GA 30314 Price Range: $12.99-$17.00 for a meal Recommendation: Fried or baked chicken ($12.99 for a meal, which includes two sides, corn muffins, & sweet tea)

Atlanta Candy Bar A fun dessert shop that’ll satisfy your sweet tooth! Location: 171 Auburn Ave. Suite G, Atlanta GA 30303 Price Range: $2-$20 Recommendation: Any flavor of their “create your own unique cupcake.”


8 May 2017 www.spelmanblueprint.com

The BluePrint

OPINION Why I Chose a Historically Black College By: Skylar Mitchell

Reprinted from The New York Times Skylar Mitchell, a comparative women’s studies major from Montgomery County, Md., published an article on April 1, 2017 in The New York Times. Her article reflects on the benefits of attending a historically black college.

“A black school? But you’re so smart, you could go anywhere.” That was the reaction I got when I told some high school friends that I would attend Spelman, a historically black women’s college in Atlanta. I know they thought they were complimenting me. At first, I tried to justify my decision, pointing to the college’s notable alumnae and research opportunities. But the fact that Spelman is the nation’s top-ranked historically black college was lost on them. I couldn’t make my peers understand the experience of a black student in an overwhelmingly white school. I couldn’t convey the significance of historically black colleges and universities. I wasn’t interested in Spelman when I first visited. I was in the eighth grade and my heart was set on the Northeast Ivies. I knew I wanted extensive study-abroad options, a core curriculum and at least a 10 percent black student population. That last item was nonnegotiable. That year during spring break, my mom took my brother and me to Atlanta to sightsee. “Your nana would want you to see this school,” my mom said as we pulled up to Spelman’s gate. “You don’t have to go, but you are going to see it.” My parents’ shared premium on education bonded them as graduate students at the University of Southern California in the 1990s. Two New Yorkers pursuing their master’s and doctorates,

they saw school as the surest way to attain security. It was never a question that I was going to college. Hard work, I was taught, would ensure as many choices as possible. That level of pressure was the norm in Montgomery County, Md., just outside Washington, D.C., where I grew up. It is one of the wealthiest and best-educated counties in the country. It is also largely segregated and fiercely competitive. I grew up surrounded by so much privilege it was possible for many residents to ignore race and class inequality entirely. After all, the nation’s first black president lived 12 miles away. So, despite the racial violence that was making headlines, my friends seemed to believe Montgomery County was post-racial. “It’s sad but it’s a good thing we don’t have those problems here,” a classmate said the day after Trayvon Martin was murdered. It was clear to me, but not to many of my peers, that the community was still very much influenced by stereotypes and misconceptions about race. When I tried to talk to my classmates about that, they tended to be defensive. Being one of the few black kids in my school was all I’d ever known before college. Having my hair teasingly prodded during recess or being called “oreo” felt normal. From 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., I learned to excuse small indignities, and I used humor as a defense mechanism. When I

got home, I could finally vent to the few other people who understood. My mother was very clear: “Don’t let anyone touch your hair and you better not let them call you outside of your name.” As I got older, I felt less and less like I belonged. When I started taking AP courses and showing up to the same college info sessions as many of my classmates, they made jokes about quotas and affirmative action, as if they hadn’t seen me studying right alongside them for years. One classmate even asked me to give up my spot on the morning announcements because “I didn’t need anything extra” for my college applications anyway. It wasn’t the comments that bothered me so much as the fact that they came from people I knew. They had seen how hard I worked to maintain an advanced course load and leadership positions. My grandmother, the eighth of 13 children raised on a tobacco farm in Yanceyville, N.C., was the first of her siblings to leave home. In 1960, she graduated from Shaw University, the oldest HBCU in the South, and dissatisfied with the limited opportunities for a black woman in her Jim Crow state, moved to New York to teach. She sought to realize her best self while being seen as an individual. Her daughter, my mother, sought

Getting to Know the Co-Valedictorian: Muhire Honorine Kwizera

(continued)

...continued from page 1 mathematics department. “I feel like everyone in the math department has been my mentor at some point of my life,” she says. From registering for classes to choosing what graduate school would fit her best, Kwizera is deeply grateful to the math department faculty, especially Dr. Stephens-Cooley (department chair), Dr. Borum and Dr. Olubummo’s guidance through the years. While in college, Kwizera also

studied abroad in Lima, Peru, an experience that “opened [her] eyes in so many ways.” During her free time, you can find Kwizera with friends, watching movies or listening to different genres of music. But, she also tries to merge the academic and social aspects of her life. “I don’t really separate academic and social. Even learning itself can be a social activity. If I go to a seminar, that would be another social activity for me. I still go out, have a good time and come back and study.” “The trilingual senior” did not

set out to become valedictorian. “I was initially just trying to get a good grade-point average (GPA). I knew I needed the GPA to go to an excellent program [for] graduate school. I was not expecting it because I know in this class ... there are so many other great ladies who could have easily been valedictorian and you see there are two this year”. At first, Kwizera was surprised to learn she was co-valedictorian. “I couldn’t believe it actually. I told a few of my friends and they were like, ‘oh we believe it,’ but I couldn’t.”

something similar when she left her predominantly white neighborhood on Long Island, N.Y. She went to Georgetown University but took her first AfricanAmerican studies courses across the city at Howard University. Even though she loved Georgetown, it was at Howard that she was finally able to learn in a context that validated her history and identity. I ended up applying to nearly 20 colleges, and got into some great schools like Swarthmore, but Spelman kept pulling me back. I had never met professors or college administrators who looked like me or who seemed so genuinely interested in what I had to say. On a visit, I remember sitting in on an “African Diaspora and the World” class — a required course for freshmen on racial formation, colonization and capitalism — and not second-guessing myself before I spoke. I did not worry that the class might think my questions were “hypersensitive” or “hostile.” When I was offered a full scholarship and a spot in the honors program, I accepted immediately. There is something powerful about attending an institution that was built for you. Most colleges were built for white students, or at least, with only white students in mind. At Spelman, I found a place for myself in the curriculum, and an opening to learn what it means to be me.

Concluding the interview, Kwizera thanks those who had a part in getting her to the last days of her college career: “I would like to thank my parents ... they were the ones who kept encouraging me to strive for excellence ... I would also like to thank my classmates who made … this journey fun. And last, but not least, my friends from the International Student Organization who made Spelman feel like a family.” K’yal Bannister, who was unavailable for an interview, will serve as the other co-valedictorian.

Profile for The BluePrint: A Spelman Spotlight Publication

Vol. 4, No. 5  

May 2017

Vol. 4, No. 5  

May 2017

Profile for spelmanbp
Advertisement