School: Florida State University
House: Grace-Fox Scholarship House
January 2015. I had a dream, but none of the realities yet. I was waiting to hear if I would be admitted to the Florida State Master’s in Social Work Program. Waiting to hear if I would be accepted into Southern Scholarship Foundation.
April, 2015. The first round of SSF acceptance letters went out. I was put on the waiting list, not knowing how many people were ahead of me on that list, wondering if I would get that coveted acceptance letter next month.
May, 2015. While at work, I checked my email during a spare moment. There, a day early, lay my acceptance letter to SSF! I literally ran throughout the halls of my office, popping my head into every office and yelling out, “I got my housing!!”
Needless to say, I was excited. Most of all, I was excited about community living. The idea of moving to a new city where I knew no one and living by myself (or with random apartment roommates, which we all know is a disaster every time!) sounded like a recipe for depression and isolation if ever I heard one. Instead, I was going to be living in a house full of women who would (hopefully) become my best friends—women who shared my quest for academic and personal excellence and would encourage me along the way by their words and example.
Next, I found out my house assignment—Grace-Fox, the female grad house. Truthfully, I was a little disappointed. I knew it was a smaller house, so I figured my pool for making friends was smaller. What if none of them really clicked with me and I didn’t make any best friends while at SSF?
August, 2015. My fears were smashed to smithereens. I experienced genuine chemistry and connection with each and every one of my housemates. It seems statistically and practically impossible, yet it remains true to this day. We’re all very studious and involved ladies, so everyone has the excuse of being “busy,” but every time we see each other—in the kitchen, in the living room, on the way out the door—we take the time to connect—“How was your day? How’ve you been doing?” In just two months, these ladies have seen me through some graduate-level crises—a class that was over my head, a flu that lasted three weeks, personal challenges. Whenever I need help, these ladies are literally the first people I turn to, and they’re always there for me. Their support, advice, and help always encourage me and empower me to overcome my situation.
I’m only two months in, but SSF is undoubtedly an Education for Life. At SSF, you might cook your first meal or change your first tire. You might pull your first all-nighter or ace your first exam. But above all, you will become a more excellent human being. You will learn how to get along with people you might not otherwise choose to spend time with. You will learn how to walk with people through their highs and lows. You will learn how to be selfless and to consider the needs and preferences of others.
And in return, you will meet some incredible people. You’ll meet Uriel, the guy from Haiti with a smile as big as the sky. You’ll meet Mickey, the acrobatic CEO of SSF who cares about each and every resident and comes to house dinners with us. You’ll meet Shaina, the Apple tech who can help you when your laptop won’t turn on. And you’ll meet Barby, Marie, Kayleigh, and Amber, some amazing ladies who can teach you how to be successful professionals.
SSFamily is a reality. I feel such incredible acceptance and belonging from everyone, and I am so blessed to have a network of brothers and sisters across geography, ethnicity, religion, age, and academic field who will be with me for a lifetime. They are my friends, my colleagues, my heroes. Together, we talk about world issues, cry over our own issues, and play Rock Band until 2 in the morning.
SSFamily is—Love. Opportunity. Fun. . .