I never thought I would enjoy doing outreach. Most of my employment experiences in the field of Social Work have been where the client comes to me, but I've gotta say, being able to get out of the office can literally be a breath of fresh air. Yesterday, while out in the field I had the pleasure of passing by my Alma Mater, Brooklyn College on the way to a home visit for one of my clients. It felt so good to pass by my old college campus.
After a couple of attempts at college, in 2001 when my oldest son Jelani was 2 years old I decided to enroll at Brooklyn College. Attending college and getting a degree was always stressed in my house growing up and it was expected. It was something I knew I needed to get ahead in life and not only would it allow me to broaden my opportunities, I also found out that it would provide me we with a sense of accomplishment and pride. I jumped in at Brooklyn College full force majoring in Sociology and minoring in Africana Studies. I was finally taking College seriously and began to get closer and closer to graduating. I finally had the desire to get my degree and I wanted it so bad I even took Sunday class one semester. ☺️
During my last semester (2005) I was pregnant with my middle child Jahtiba. I remember walking into classes that February with my 6 month old belly determined to complete my final course work for my Bachelors Degree. I was told I would be due to give birth during May, which would be the end of the Spring semester. I ended up giving birth 1 month early due to complications with a condition called pre-eclampsia. Jahtiba was born on April 23, 2005 and weighed 4lbs 5oz. He had to stay in the hospital for 1 week due to his blood sugar level being low, it was the worst feeling ever. This all happened during the final weeks of my last Spring semester at Brooklyn College. Amazingly, after giving birth I was able to return to classes around two weeks later to the suprise of my professors, who were so understanding. I often say that it was the blood of my African ancestors running through my veins that alowed me to gain such strength. Not only that but, having my family who I like to call "the village" there for additional support added to my resiliance in returning to classes. Determination and a strong desire to graduate were also major reasons for my accomplishment during that time. I was able to take my finals, complete and make up any term papers that were due and take part in the class of 2005 commencement ceremony, all while caring for a premature baby.
The day of the ceremony seemed like the hottest day ever. I remember sitting with my counterparts on the beautiful Brooklyn College campus with the sun beaming down on us. Many of us took off our cap and gowns due to the intense heat. Of course my mother, father and friends came out to support me on this exciting day of accomplishment. My father, who had been retired by then, had began taking courses in photography at Fashion Institute of Technology, so he came with his professional camera and captured some of the moments. He seemed more excited than me and for the first time I saw him cry. I remember him telling me how proud he was of me. The look of joy and happiness that fell over his and my mothers face were priceless. After the commencement we went to the historical Lundy's Restaurant located in Sheepshead Bay Brooklyn. I will never forget that day and every time I walk past Brooklyn College I am reminded of that accomplishment and how badly I wanted it.